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Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The kitchen's the coziest place that I know:
The kettle is singing, the stove is aglow,
And there in the twilight, how jolly to see
The cocoa and animals waiting for me!
~Christopher Morley~

The experts are saying that in twenty years chocolate will be expensive as caviar due to higher demand and less supply.  Good old-fashioned cocoa is the cheapest way to get your chocolate "fix".  Now I know there are some true chocolate connoisseurs that would scoff at cocoa.   Only  fancy imported  chocolate is good enough for them. I once heard a chef describe eating a piece of chicken, describing as it hit his taste buds at the front of his mouth and how it changed as the food traveled toward the back of his mouth. Well!  If you get that much out of food, maybe cocoa isn't for you.  I'm talking about the average joes that don't expect food to do things for them except taste good (well and nourish us would be good too).  I use good old Hersheys or (gasp!) even cheaper brands.  And I can guarantee you that no one has ever turned down a mug of my cocoa.

With cocoa on your pantry shelf, you can eliminate cocoa , pudding and chocolate cake mixes from your pantry shelves.  It takes just a few minutes extra to make these goodies from scratch with what you have on hand.  And I swear, homemade hot cocoa is nothing like the stuff you get in the instant drinks aisles.  Oh my is it ever rich!  It will give you a buzz all day!  Here's the recipe:


2 Tbsp. cocoa
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 C. water
1 1/2 C.  milk

Blend cocoa and sugar in a saucepan.  Gradually add the water, whisking out the lumps.  Heat over medium heat for  a minute, stirring constantly.  Add the milk and heat.  Do not boil.

That's the basic recipe, but we always gild the lily. We might add a splash of eggnog or some of those wonderful flavored creamers that are out there.  Sometimes we add a bit of mint extract and sprinkle crushed peppermints over top.  This cup was made with Silk's pure coconut vanilla milk.  Has anyone tried that?  Yummy! and the same amount of calories as skimmed milk!

Here's another recipe using cocoa.  Plain old cornstarch pudding:

Chocolate Pudding

1/2 C. sugar
3 Tbsp. cocoa
1/4 C. cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 1/2 C. milk
2 Tbsp.  butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla

In a saucepan, stir together the first four ingredients.  Gradually stir in the milk.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer.  Cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.  Cool slightly.  Serve warm or cold.

A very basic chocolate cookie that can be dressed up or down:

Chewy Brownie Cookies

2/3 C. shortening
1 1/2 C. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp.  vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 C. flour
1/3 C. cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Beat shortening, brown sugar, water and vanilla together.  Add eggs and beat well.
Stir together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture until just blended.
Drop by teaspoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

I made these for Christmas, substituting coconut extract for the vanilla and frosting them with a thick white frosting sprinkled with coconut.  Also made them with peppermint extract and stirred in mint chips. Again I frosted them with peppermint frosting.  You could also stir in chocolate (or butterscotch or peanut butter) chips.  Or how about nuts?  Your only limited by your imagination.

Another recipe that lends itself to variations is your basic chocolate cake.  Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Cake

6 Tbsp. cocoa
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 C. hot water
1 C. flour
1 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. shortening
1/4 C. buttermilk (you can substitute regular milk with a splash of vinegar)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

Blend together cocoa, oil and water.  Stir in sugar.  Beat in shortening, egg and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and gradually add to the creamed mixture, alternating with the buttermilk.  Bake in a greased 8 inch square pan at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

So you see, good things can come from even the most basic of pantries!


  1. Chocolate is truly my favorite food - and it doesn't have to be the expensive kind. Your chocolate cookies sound really good; I may have to try those. But chocolate cake, made from scratch, is my favorite!! (Now I'm hungry for warm cake - frosted or not!)

  2. Yum, yum, yum... Chcolate cake with cocoa to drink. Yum..... Sounds really good, Jane!

  3. Hi Jane!

    What a wonderful post! I have always loved things truly “chocolate!” When [over]-eating cocoa oatmeal no-bake cookies one very dreary spring day, I learned the hard way that cocoa also lowers blood pressure! In addition to my blood pressure med, a tablespoon of dark [Hershey’s] cocoa in my decaf coffee/tea/smoothie helps to keep my blood pressure at normal levels. I used the chocolate pudding recipe you posted, for 6 weeks, to convince the dr that I didn’t need that extra blood pressure medication he was recommending.

    Yes, mint flavoring in wonderful with cocoa! Checking the different kinds of flavours of chocolate bars has given me additional ideas to add variety to cocoa: coconut, raspberry, banana, pineapple, orange, pumpkin pie spice, Maya spice [without much hot pepper]. I am not too keen on the sea salt dark chocolate nor the hot pepper varieties for hot cocoa/tea/coffee.

    I will think of you enjoying your hot chocolate as I enjoy my iced chocolate banana coffee aka iced frap [it is hot here!] Thanks for your post!


    1. Hi Carol! That's very interesting. I guess everyone here should have some nice low blood pressure then. Ha! Made brownies the other day and we just kept picking away at it until the pan was gone. That's why I usually cut the recipes in half. No self-control.

      MY favorite chocolate combination is chocolate and coconut. Whomever figured that one out deserves a gold star!

      Thanks for all the kind comments. I really appreciate the encouragement. I think I have some of the loveliest readers.

      Well, I guess it's ok to eat those chocolate bunny's ears then! Have a lovely holiday!


    2. Hi Jane!

      I started to read your post on beans and black bean brownies came to mind. I made them once and LOVED them. I figured they were healthier..?

      I have a similar self-control challenge [actually I wonder if it is the internal stimulus that signals satiation doesn't kick in the way it does in most other people.. something for me to look up and read up on...] I tried cutting the sugar in 1/2 and 1/4 but it did not help. I have pretty much stopped baking and try to limit my consumption of sweets to fresh fruit with enough fiber to help me feel a bit "full/satisfied."

      I wish you lived next door! I could send over the fresh coconuts from our farm... Most of ours are used for the coconut water. If there is dry flesh, it is pried off, grated, formed into small balls and frozen to make coconut milk or add to smoothies. Living here makes for an interesting and steep learning curve..

      Hugs to you, too!

    3. I've often wondered the same thing Carol. I don't ever remember ever being really full. I've learned the strategy that works best for me is just the old-fashioned counting calories and when I get up to 1200 I'm through for the day, whether it's 8 AM or midnight.

      Don't think I ever tasted black bean brownies but I'm sure they'd be good. Did you ever taste pecan pie made with beans? I haven't but people tell me it's just as good as pecan pie.

      Growing coconuts is certainly a long way from Wisconsin! You are on quite an adventure, for certain.

      It's funny about the microwave mug cakes. I have no self control when it comes to potato chips, so I always buy individual sized bags, or I would eat an entire bag. Living in a small village has it's advantages and one of them is that I don't want to become known as the woman always buying potato chips, so I only allow myself one individual bag every other week. Ha! Thank goodness for small town gossips! They have their purpose, even if it is to keep my waistline in tow. Have a happy!


  4. PS. Making a microwave mug cake is my strategy for portion control [I split it with one or two other people, depending on the size and eating it with them gives me some "accountability"] and time management [easy to make and clean up and I don't spend lots of time "thinking" about it before it is finished, so that decreases some of the "appeal."]


  5. Hi Jane!

    Chocolate coconut is such a wonderful combination!!! When starbucksrestaurantathome blog site had open access to all their recipes, I found it a wonderful springboard for flavor combination ideas. Some recipes still are open. International Delight site, has some amazing ideas, too.


    1. Hi Carol! Sorry about the delay in responding to your comment, I was out of town. Glad you like the stew. Thanks for the Starbucks link. I always loved their cranberry bliss bars, but they no longer offer them. It's terrible how wasteful, we Americans are when it comes to water. I'm betting that if we had to pump and lug it in buckets, many things that are considered necessary now days would fall by the wayside!


    2. Hi Jane!

      Wonderful that you were able to have some time away. I trust it was filled with making good memories to last a lifetime - for you and all involved!

      I have never visited a Starbucks - only bought their ground coffee on sale at Walgreen's. The cranberry bliss bars sound interesting! Were they something like this?

      Yes, I hauled rain water by the 5 gal bucket from a water collection vat for quite a few years. During the dry season, the community reservoir's water was diverted to keeping the livestock alive, and maintaining the dairy operation. Mandatory water conservation - "water thrift" is a real eye opener.


  6. Hi Carol! It's taken me a full week to recuperate from babysitting. The baby is learning to walk and is into everything and well, the other one is three, so you can see, there was very little time to sit!

    Yes, that recipe, looks very similar to ones Starbucks served.

    Anyone that has hauled buckets of water, understands what a wonderful thing plumbing and having enough water is. I come from the generation that remembers when people took Saturday night baths and didn't shower every day. I don't remember anyone smelling too offensive. Ha! Have a lovely week!