A perfect winter recipe
A little history
Drinking chocolate is a New World tradition that goes back to the time of the Olmecs. Cups of chocolate show up in Mayan glyphs and Aztec leader Montezuma is rumored to have drunk 50 cups of chocolate a day! Traditionally combined with cinnamon, cayenne, and other spices, Mexican chocolate is whisked to a froth using a special wooden device called a molinillo. Used medicinally and in religious ceremonies, Spanish conquistadores took notice of this drink and brought cacao beans back to Europe where new recipes developed.
A little medicine
Intrigued by the idea of a medicinal spiced cocoa, our friends at Mayway Herbs invented their own, using the traditional cayenne and cinnamon, plus a few herbs the early Mesoamericans didn’t have access to. This recipes call for almond milk which keeps it plant-based and lends it a rich flavor, without the milk fat. You can easily substitute the almond milk with other “milks” – coconut milk, soy milk, cow’s milk, etc. Also, our Maywa friends used raw turbinado sugar to cut the bitterness of the Reishi/Ling Zhi, but raw honey or coconut sugar may also be used, and bring their own health benefits. For those concerned with blood-sugar levels, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than turbinado, and Rou Gui/Cinnamon bark has been shown to reduce serum glucose, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
The name of the Ling Zhi mushroom translates to “spiritual mushroom” in Chinese, and was traditionally linked to immortality. It calms the Spirit, boosts energy, and nourishes the Heart. Rou Gui/Cinnamon bark is a strong warming herb that works to unblock cold obstruction, warm the Heart and Kidney Yang, warm the Mingmen, and encourage the generation of Qi and Blood. All important functions in Chinese medicine during Wintertime! Tangerine peel/Chen Pi regulates the digestion and dries dampness. Cayenne powder (“La Jiao” in Chinese medicine), like Chuan Jiao/Sichuan pepper, strongly warms the interior, it also stimulates the appetite and promotes digestion. A perfect combination for cold winter days!
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (may substitute cow’s milk, coconut or soy milk)
- 1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa
- 1½ Tbs turbinado sugar (may substitute slightly more coconut sugar or raw honey)
- ½ tsp reishi extract powder/Ling zhi/Ganoderma lucidum fungus
- ½ tsp cinnamon extract powder/Rou gui/Cinnamomum cassia bark
- ¼ tsp Tangerine peel extract powder/Chen pi/Citrus reticulate peel
- 1-2 dashes cayenne powder/La jiao/Capsicum annuum fruit
Ingredient Note: The herbs in this recipe are concentrated extract herbal powders. They have been decocted then concentrated into powder form. This is different from powdered herbs.
- Place almond milk in a saucepan and heat on medium-high flame until steaming.
- Turn off heat and add all other ingredients (cocoa, sugar, herbs, and spice).
- Whisk until frothy and pour into your favorite mug.
- Serve with a cinnamon stick for stirring.
Thanks to Mayway Herbs one of our favorite herb suppliers for this great recipe!