Chocolate was originally described as "the drink of the gods" by ancient Aztecs and Mayans and has a long history in Central American culture. For more than 4,000 years, cacao plants have been harvested for their delicious, bitter components that are a key ingredient in many chocolate products we enjoy today. Many historians agree that the first hot chocolate recipe originated in Mexico as a mixture of ground and roasted cacao beans, boiled water, and chilies.

This modern day Latin-inspired hot cocoa recipe celebrates the rich heritage of both the locality of the ingredients and the people. A delicate coconut whipped cream softens the spice from the cayenne and compliments the smoothness of the chocolate in this wonderful drink.

Latin-Inspired Hot Cocoa With Coconut Whipped Cream

2 cups milk

2.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons sugar or honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Mexican vanilla

1/2 pinch of cloves

Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of chili powder

1/2 pinch of salt

1 ounce bittersweet chocolate

Whisk together milk, cocoa powder, vanilla, and spices in a small saucepan. Place pot on stove and bring to a light simmer over medium heat. Once the mixture is simmering, turn off heat and add the ounce of bittersweet chocolate. Stir gently until chocolate has melted and serve immediately. Top with a delicious homemade whipped cream like the recipe featured below.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 14 ounce can coconut cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Dash of vanilla

Place the unopened can of coconut cream in the refrigerator overnight. This is an essential step in this recipe to ensure the separation of coconut fat and liquid.

The next day place a mixing bowl and whisking attachment in the freezer or refrigerator for 10-15 minutes prior to making the whipped cream. Remove the canned coconut cream from the refrigerator. Inside the can, the cream solidifies at the top and the liquid settles to the bottom. Gently scoop the cream off the top and place it in the chilled mixing bowl.

Turn the whisking attachment on medium high for about 30 seconds and add the sugar and vanilla. Whip an additional 30 seconds but not too long to prevent separation. Serve immediately or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

The remaining liquid may be used in smoothies or mixed drinks for a fresh coconut flavor. 

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