Stuart loves chocolate. Me, not so much. I mean, I like chocolate, but I’m more of a salty, crunchy kinda gal. But I don’t suffer from migraines, so of course I go for savoury flavours. Stuart, like most migraineurs, goes for sweet.
He loves chocolate in a way that I can’t understand. He has a hot chocolate everyday. Then if I’m feeling generous, the week’s baked goods might be chocolate based or there could be chocolate something for dessert one night.
You know what, not a single migraine.
Lucky for Stuart, and the remaining 1.5 billion other sufferers, that there is no scientific reason for chocolate to trigger migraines. Now I’m talking about chocolate in its pure form. A roasted and ground preparation of Theobroma cacao seeds that is used as a flavouring or ingredient for other foods. Not the adulterated bar of sugar, chemicals, soy lecithin, yeast extract, malted barley and a dash of the aforementioned roasted and ground Theobroma cacao seeds you impulse buy while you’re paying for petrol because it’s been one of those days.
I’ve had to learn to cook with chocolate. Well not really cook so much as bake, and make other types of desserts. Chocolate is what Stuart and the boys prefer. For their special day it’s what they want.
So here are my three recommendations for things you can do with 100% cocoa. Enjoy my friends.
Something for the Pantry
I am known for my hot chocolate. People ooo and awe over it asking what I do that’s so special. I tell them it’s my secret ingredient and that if I told them, I’d have to kill them. It keeps them coming back for more.
There is no secret ingredient. It’s just cocoa, sugar and milk. That’s why it’s so good. It doesn’t need anything else and you don’t have to invest in some uber posh “drinking chocolate”. I use Woolworths’ store brand cocoa. We’ve tried others and they are not as rich and chocolatey as Woolworths. We’ve also tried uber posh hot chocolate mixes and to be honest, they don’t hold a candle to this tried and true recipe. Plus a lot of uber posh hot chocolate mixes contain migraine triggering yeast extract and/or malted barley to enhance their flavour. You really want to stay away from those.
Migraineur’s Hot Chocolate
A rich hot chocolate suitable for all ages.
Required skills: boiling water; using a measuring cup instead of eyeballing it
Using the base cocoa and sugar mix you can make a chocolate syrup that can be used to make chocolate milk, thick shakes or smoothies. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can use it as a hot fudge for ice cream. That’s a completely different beast and you can the recipe for Migraineur’s Hot Fudge here.
Migraineur’s Hot Chocolate Mix
– 1 part cocoa
– 1 part sugar
– Mixing bowl
– Airtight storage container
1. Combine the sugar and cocoa in a mixing bowl.
2. Transfer to airtight storage container.
Stove Top – Old taste fashioned trumps convenience of the microwave every time.
This is for one mug of hot chocolate.
– 2-4 tbsp Migraineur’s Hot Chocolate Mix
– Pinch of salt is optional, but it does bring out the chocolate flavour
– 2-4 tbsp water
– 1 mug milk
– Saucepan big enough for the number of servings
1. In a small saucepan combine cocoa and sugar.
2. Gradually stir in an equal volume of water. Bring mixture to a boil stirring constantly over medium heat. If you are not careful it will burn.
3. Turn down heat and continue to a low boil and continue to stir for 2 minutes.
4. Gradually add in milk while stirring.
5. Heat over medium heat stirring occasionally until the milk scalds, a white foam will start to form on the top of the mixture.
If I’m making for a mob, sailing club, scouts etc, I use 1/2 cup of Migraineur’s Hot Chocolate Mix for every litre (quart) of milk. For every 3 litres (gallon) of milk I add an additional 1/2 cup of Migraineur’s Hot Chocolate Mix.
Microwave – works for a single cup
– 2-4 tbsp Migraineur’s Hot Chocolate Mix.
– 2-4 tbsp boiling water
– 1 cup milk
1. Dissolve the hot chocolate mix, I like 3, Stuart 2, the kids 4 just tailor it to your taste, in and equal amount of boiling water. Be sure and stir well so that there’s none left on the bottom of the mug. Use a bit more water if necessary.
2. Top with milk.
3. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove mug and stir, check for temperature. Microwave an additional 30 sec to 1 minute depending on the desired temperature and your microwave.
Chocolate Syrup (yields 1 cup)
– 2 cups Migraineur’s Hot Chocolate Mix
– 1 cup water
– Sterilized airtight glass jar or bottle
1. Measure Migraineur’s Hot Chocolate into saucepan. Gradually whisk in the water.
2. Bring to a boil over medium heat whisking frequently.
3. Reduce heat to a low boil and continue to boil whisking frequently for 5 minutes. Mixture should thicken slightly.
4. Transfer to sterilized glass jar or bottle. Mixture will thicken more upon cooling.
Reliably Good in a Hurry
This can be on the plate in 30 minutes. Promise.
A chocolate brownie is a great indulgence. I make each of the boys their own tray for Valentine’s Day every year. Number 1 and 3 son ration theirs out over a couple of days. Number 2 son can’t help himself and eats his all in one sitting.
I readily text this recipe to friends it’s that easy. They are always surprised when they don’t heed my warnings about the using Woolworths’s store brand cocoa for a rich dark chocolate. They think I’m kidding them and try uber posh cocoa and their brownies aren’t as rich. I gently explain that it’s the cocoa and they should invest the $4 in some Woolworths’ store brand. I guess my secret ingredient really is the cocoa.
Rich chocolate brownies that go from bowl to oven to plate in 30 minutes.
Required skills: melting butter in the microwave; egg breaking with no shells in the bowl; using a measuring cup instead of eyeballing it; lining a baking tin with baking paper; setting a timer and doing things when it dings
Migraineur’s Brownies are an easy peasy, one bowl, 5 minute slap together with 20-25 minutes in the oven. I’ve been know to whip up a batch in the morning while making lunches and they finish in time to be popped into the lunch boxes. Or serve warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and strawberries.
- 100 gms butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- ⅔ cup flour
- ⅓ cup pure cocoa
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 9 inch square pan
- baking paper
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and line pan with baking paper.
- In a mixing bowl melt the butter in the microwave.
- Add in the sugar and vanilla and mix well.
- Stir in the eggs.
- Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into the egg mixture and mix well.
- Spread in baking paper lined pan, it will be a thin layer.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brownies begins to pull away from the edge of the pan.
- Lift by baking paper and place on a rack to cool. Cut into 16 pieces.
This is not something that you can just whip up. It takes a bit of forethought, planning and at least two days because the chocolate needs some time to set in the refrigerator. But it is oh so worth it. Homemade chocolate wafers.
I know you are thinking “What!?!” and expecting a lot more. But these wafers are to die for. They are like the cookie part of an oreo, a deep rich chocolate and oh so crispy. They have a million and one uses once you get some made, like:
- Sandwich some homemade whipped cream between them for the best “Oreos” you’ve ever had. I like to serve this as a tray of cookies and a bowl of cream. I let everyone make them the way they like. I prefer to just dollop some cream on my plate and use the cookie as a dipper.
- Sandwich some vanilla ice cream, or strawberry or mint, between two and enjoy it then and there or return to the freezer overnight to let the cookie soften. Best ice cream sandwich ever.
- Crumble to make a chocolate cookie crust for cheesecake.
This is not my recipe but Deb Perlman’s, a.k.a. Smitten Kitchen, and you can get it here. I’ve made the Icebox Cake that theses chocolate wafers form the base of. After the first iteration as a Darth Vader cake for a 10th birthday party it quickly became a household favourite. It’s a great novelty to have a layer for every year. It’s surprisingly easy to do and looks so impressive.
A couple of tips besides those in Deb’s post:
- If you are going to make an Icebox Cake you need to start four, yes four, days before you need the cake.
- It is one of the few times she recommends investing in a rich, dark cocoa. I use Woolworths’ store brand and my chocolate wafers look exactly like hers. It’s the richest, darkest cocoa I can find.
- It takes two days to make the chocolate wafers. Day one I make the dough, 30 – 45 minutes, and it goes into the refrigerator overnight. I don’t have a food processor so I work the butter into the dry ingredients with my fingers. It looks like chocolate gravel before the milk goes in.
- Day two I cut and bake the chocolate wafers, 2-3 hours. This takes a lot of time because you don’t want to break them. Broken ones are good for whip/ice cream dippers and making cookie crumble. Keep baked chocolate wafers in an airtight container up to 1 week. Seriously, they won’t last that long.
- Day three I put together the Icebox Cake, 30 minutes for a round version and 45 minutes for Darth Vader. It needs to be refrigerated overnight to soften the crisp chocolate wafers into a cake. You won’t be able to cut it if you don’t let it sit overnight.
- Day four it’s time to indulge. You will realize that it was well worth the effort to make the chocolate wafers.
So my friends, what are your three favourite things to do with cocoa?