Cocoa emergency.

So, my first proper post isn’t actually about bread.

This morning as I was gathering myself up to go to work, Jamie brought this to me and made ‘ahem’ noises.

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To the untrained eye, this is just a simple half-gallon canning jar.  However, it is actually the usual home of my cocoa mix. As you can see, it is sadly and forlornly empty. It was explained to me that this was an emergency. I explained back that it was an situation I would rectify after I came home from the phone mines. So, I gathered up the herbed bread, homemade butter and other accoutrements I was taking for my team to snack on during our meeting (You’ll get an herbed bread post later. I promise.) and took myself off to the place where I make the money.

Once I got home and got fed dinner, I gathered up my supplies and got to work.

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The basic recipe I use is this:

3 cups nonfat powdered milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

The cocoa can be made with any sort of cocoa powder. I’ve made it with plain old Hershey’s and I’ve made it with fancier stuff. Tonight’s version was a half-cup (all I had left) of Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa and a cup of Bensdorp dutch-process cocoa, making it an especially dark and rich cocoa.

The first few times I tried this, I just poured the ingredients into the jar and shook it until they were nicely combined. The first problem with this is that it takes a lot of shaking to combine these particular ingredients. The second problem is that sometimes measuring them directly into the jar doesn’t actually leave room for shaking. By the magic of physics, the volume of the well-combined ingredients is less than the volume of the ingredients just stacked on top of one another.  My solution is this:

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That square bowl was a Dollar Tree find. It’s flimsy, but in a wonderful way. It’s great for pouring flour or sugar or what-have-you into a running mixer. The corners make great pour spouts.

I particularly love the different colors in the cocoas. The Bensdorp has this gorgeous reddish tint to it. The spatters of white powder on the table are evidence that powdered sugar and I have yet to come to an agreement about how it should stay in the cup when I’m measuring it.

A little quick whisk work later and you get this:

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Now, great pour spouts or not, those corners still cause all sorts of spillage if you try to just put the cocoa into a half-gallon Ball canning jar. So, I get to get out one of my favorite recent kitchen tools: the canning funnel.

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We have three of those things and they have saved me a great deal of heartache and clean-up when I’m making brownie or cookie mixes or putting together summer porridge for folks to have for breakfast.

Once the cocoa is in the jar, I put the lid on nice and tight and it keeps for… well, the longest  I’ve had a batch of this last on the shelf was about three or four weeks. It’s always run out before we had a chance to see if it would go bad. All the ingredients are nice and shelf stable.

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In any version of this cocoa, it takes about three tablespoons to  a good-sized mug of hot water to come up with a nice, rich drink. I’m told this version is very intense and not overly sweet. I was going to cut the dark cocoa with the regular stuff, but I got the big eyes from the girls so it was all dark.

A favorite preparation around here seems to be three tablespoons cocoa mix (more or less), ten ounces of not-quite-boiling water, a goodly splash of Schnapps and some mini-marshmallows. I’ll have to do a follow-up post on the homemade marshmallows. Those were fun and seemed sort of magical to me.

Hopefully the next post will be bread-related. I thought I might natter about sourdough and take you folks on a pictoral tour of the making of wild-yeast bread making Chez Bear.


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