October 26, 2010

It's Hot and Spicy...... Chocolate Indulgence!

The Maine House continues to honor Old English Cooking this week. With the New England weather becoming rather cold and blustery, it's the perfect time to invent new delicious ways to create the most delicious hot cocoa recipes.

Could there be anything more comforting on a cold October evening than curling up in front of the fire with "Miss Kitty", a good book and your favorite mug of hot cocoa? Ahhhh...sheer bliss!

Sanditon, by Jane Austen, 1817.....In Sanditon, Austen explored her interest in the verbal construction of a society by means of a town – and a set of families – that is still in the process of being formed. Austen began work on the novel in January 1817 and abandoned it on March 18, 1817. The manuscript for Sanditon was originally titled "The Brothers," likely after the Parker brothers in the story. After her death, her family renamed it "Sanditon." The original manuscript includes only the first eleven chapters of the story.

He took his own cocoa from the tray, which seemed provided with almost as many teapots as there were persons in company --
Miss Parker drinking one sort of herb tea and Miss Diana another -- and turning completely to the fire, sat coddling and cooking it to his own satisfaction and toasting some slices of bread, brought up ready-prepared in the toast rack; and till it was all done, she heard nothing of his voice but the murmuring of a few broken sentences of self-approbation and success. When his toils were over, however, he moved back his chair into as gallant a line as ever, and proved that he had not been working only for himself by his earnest invitation to her to take both cocoa and toast. She was already helped to tea -- which surprised him, so totally self-engrossed had he been. "l thought I should have been in time," said he, "but cocoa takes a great deal of boiling." "l am much obliged to you," replied Charlotte. "But I prefer tea." "Then l will help myself," said he. "A large dish of rather weak cocoa every evening agrees with me better than anything." lt struck her, however, as he poured out this rather weak cocoa, that it came forth in a very fine, dark-coloured stream; and at the same moment, his sisters both crying out, "Oh, Arthur, you get your cocoa stronger and stronger every evening," with Arthur's somewhat conscious reply of "Tis rather stronger than it should be tonight"

Indulge in this chocolaty cold-weather treat to give your brain a boost on family game night: hot cocoa. Yes, research shows that enjoying a couple of cups may help boost blood flow in your brain by about 10 percent. All the better for clearing up brain fog and reducing your risk of dementia, too.

Go with the Flow
Think of your blood vessels as nutrient superhighways, delivering oxygen and other critical supplies to your muscles and organs -- including your brain. And blood vessels work best when they're wide and relaxed, allowing oxygen and nutrients to go where they need to go. That's where chocolate comes in. Flavonols found in chocolate increase blood flow by helping your blood vessels relax. (Here's another quick way to boost blood flow by about 20 percent.)

Brain Boost
Scientists think flavonol-rich cocoas help blood vessels relax by lifting levels of nitric oxide, a compound that makes blood vessels dilate. Blood-vessel-friendly flavonols are also found in tea and red wine. In the recent study, older adults consumed a couple of servings of cocoa every day for 2 weeks to get the 10 percent boost in blood flow to the brain.

Spiced Hot Chocolate
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 strip lemon peel
1 3" cinnamon stick
pinch of ground cloves
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1tsp vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat the first 5 ingredients to boiling, reduce heat simmer 3 min. Remove from heat whisk in cocoa and vanilla until foamy.Strain into warmed cups. Top with whipped cream.
When using real milk in your hot cocoa, never overheat. Overheating milk destroys the flavor and texture. Milk temperature should never exceed 170-degrees.

•Add freshly grated cinnamon to the bottom of the cup before pouring in cocoa mixture and water. Stir thoroughly and garnish with whipped cream or a cinnamon stick.
•Add a drop of vanilla to the water as it's heating. Garnish with whipping cream.
•Add a dash of nutmeg to the powdered cocoa before adding water.
•Stirring your cocoa with a candy cane will create a festive and delicious peppermint drink.

"Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time.”

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