There’s a fat man inside me struggling to get out.
I’m not going to let him.
Part one of my three-step plan to thwart the fat man is to cut sugar out of my diet. Part two removes fat and carbs. Part three eliminates food altogether. That’ll show him.
Turns out it’s not so easy to forego sugar when it seductively whispers your name throughout the day, promising ecstasies beyond mortal comprehension. To silence the voice (that lovely, wonderful voice), I have tried sugar-free everything, but I just can’t get past artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, and the thought of contorted, glowing green lab rats with cancerous pustules oozing atop other festering cancers.
The after-lunch cravings are the worst.
Here’s Where the Cocoa Comes in…
I had a solution… nurse a cup of sugar-free cocoa, like a baby with a pacifier, but more dignified and adult-like. The only problem, I couldn’t find a good sugar-free, packaged hot cocoa, or even a decent recipe for that matter. Empty-handed, I had little choice but to attempt to create a recipe of my own. Keep in mind, I’m no chef, but the bar was low. As long as it didn’t taste like wrung-out sweat sock juice, I was good. A quick analysis of the problem indicated three major hurdles:
First I needed to find a sugar-free, low fat substitute for milk (even 1% milk is loaded with sugar and fat, albeit the good stuff apparently), with a non-watery, pleasantly thick consistency. After testing every form of liquid known to man, including numerous varieties of tequila (those were good days), I settled on Silk’s Unsweetened Cashew Milk. There are other brands available, but they are too strong and nutty for my taste.
The next hurdle was finding a sugar-free sweetener that wasn’t potentially harmful or just plain icky (I’m looking at you Stevia. Yuck). Frankly, the sweetener was the toughest part. Monk fruit extract was my prime candidate for a long time, but no matter what I mixed with it, the fruity, sickly aftertaste remained (not as bad as Stevia, but not good either). I suspect it tastes fine in fruit drinks, but definitely not cocoa. Then I came across Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener. It’s a granular substance that looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, but is comprised of a tiny bit of Monk fruit juice mixed together with a whole lot of Erythritol (a scary sounding alias for fermented corn). The name alone almost turned me away, but I felt better after doing some research. Apparently it’s the Great, White Hope of sugar substitutes. You can find it at Whole Foods or online.
Finally, I needed a cocoa richer and tastier than the standard Nestle or Hershey powders typically found in grocery stores: a dark and rich chocolate, but not bitter (I don’t ask for much). The answer was Dutch-processed cocoa. My preference is Cocoa Barry Extra Brute. If you don’t want to order a two pound bag online, many grocery stores carry a wonderful, but more expensive, alternative by Droste.
Yet, something was still missing. I think it was the absense of Cocoa Butter. I needed something to replace its buttery taste. That something was English toffee extract. Amoretti is the gold standard with no alcohol, no chemicals and no artificial flavors or colors. LorAnn makes a great economical alternative.
The result is an all-natural, very dark chocolate loaded with flavonoids and antioxidants – read the 7 Health Benefits of Drinking Hot Cocoa.
If you are looking for a milky, hot cocoa… this isn’t it.
It’s dark. “As dark as your soul,” says my wife, Robyn, “and thick, like your B.S.” I think it’s like drinking a candy bar.
Best of all, it’s:
- Sugar-free with no artificial flavors and non-GMO
- Zero on the glycemic Index
- Relatively low in calories and fat, with just a few token carbs
- Gluten, lactose and anchovy-Free
- Compatible with all the trendy diets: Vegan, Mediterranean and possibly Martian (we won’t know for sure until we discover their ancient ruins). Sorry, it’s not Paleo. I guess cavemen didn’t ferment corn or use state-of-the-art industrial processing facilities.
Dark Chocolate, Banana Cream Pie Hot Cocoa
The four ingredients required for basic dark cocoa are listed above, but if you want to try the chocolate banana cream pie, you will need these, as well :
LorAnn Marshmallow Flavoring (an extract without alcohol). Who needs all the sugar and gelatin of real marshmallows. You know where gelatin comes from, right? If you want to have fun with your cocoa, try some of their many other flavorings, from Hazelnut to Cookies and Cream.
Here’s the Recipe…
Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate, Banana Cream Pie Hot Cocoa
Zero Sugar, low carbohydrate, low fat, dairy-free, soy-free, non-GMO, Vegan
- 1 cup Silk Unsweetened Cashew Milk
- 2-1/2 T Cocoa Barry Extra Brute or Droste Dutch Cocoa
- 4 T Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener, Classic
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 drops Amoretti English Toffee Extract (use an eye dropper)
- 1 glop LorAnn Banana Emulsion (1 glop = 1 giant drop)
- 5 drops LorAnn Marshmallow Flavoring (use an eye dropper)
- 1 pinch Nutmeg
- 1 sprinkle Coconut Shavings
For basic hot cocoa, simply mix the cocoa, sweetener, English toffee extract and salt into the hot cashew milk.
For hot cocoa with an essence of marshmallow, also include the marshmallow flavoring.
For chocolate, banana cream pie hot cocoa, add all of the ingredients together.
For even richer, sipping chocolate (like drinking a candy bar), add 2 additional tablespoons of cocoa powder and two additional tablespoons of monkfruit sweetener
This cocoa is best prepared on a stovetop with a light and loving touch by gently warming the cashew milk until it is ready to accept the subtle nuances of the cocoa (I just nuke it in a microwave).
Don't care for sugar-free? Substitute sugar 1:1 for the sugar-free sweetener, and prepare to toss and turn all night wallowing in your guilt.