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Some Like It Hot

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Brrrrrrrr. So this is winter. Snow, ice and mercury that hasn’t risen above zero for days.

That coldness outside has seeped into my head and is manifesting itself as a dose of Christmas snuffles. Warming liquids are called for.

Hot chocolate

Pure hot chocolate, made with 100% cacao: good for what ails me...

When it comes to liquid fuel, the Aztecs had the right idea. Steaming, velvety chocolate is a thing of wonder. Not the late night mug of cocoa that we might have grown up with, but a drink made by heating 100% cacao with water and adding however much sugar you like. It feels like a soothing injection of pure energy.

As luck would have it, I had bought a block of Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s 100% Peruvian Black cacao on foot of having attended a chocolate tasting with Deirdre from Co Couture, an award-winning chocolatier based in Belfast. One of the few Temple Bar Chocolate Festival events that escaped weather-cancellation, I slip-slid my way there and learned to judge a chocolate bar by its snap, to inhale its aromas and allow it to linger on my tongue, until it revealed itself as fruity, nutty, smoky, earthy, or perhaps something else entirely. We tasted, among others, some of Willie’s single-origin chocolate bars, which really highlighted both how different and how good chocolate can be, and today, in my mug, a warm, liquefied shot of Willie’s cacao was just about perfect.

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Willie’s Hot Chocolate

As we talked about the different flavours in chocolate at the tasting, Deirdre said that when making truffles and such like, Co Couture generally use ganaches that are water-based rather than cream-based, as the cream will tend to coat the palate and you won’t experience the same flavour as without.

So, how better to sample some good quality cacao that a classic water-based hot chocolate. In Willie’s Chocolate Factory Cookbook, Willie Harcourt-Cooze includes, among many other cacao recipes, his Venezuelan Hot Chocolate, which is simply cacao, water and sugar or honey. Of course you can add milk, cream or other flavourings as the mood takes you.

You’ll need:
  • 25g 100% cacao
  • 100ml water
  • sugar or honey to taste
The Steps:
  • Add the cacao and water to a small pan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat when thick and well-combined. Add sugar or honey to taste.
The Variations:
  • Willie suggests many possible additions – chilli, spices, frothed milk, or a shot of something stronger, such as Baileys.
The Results:
  • Hot chocolate for one.


  1. Gillian

    Made similar with Enrico Rovira 100%. It’s definitely a morning/mid afternoon drink.

  2. Daily Spud

    Indeed so, Gillian – I could definitely make this a morning or mid-afternoon habit!

  3. Tangled Noodle

    I’ve had plenty of experience with frigid winters and have consumed many a mug of hot cocoa, but none that sounds as rich and pure as 100% cacao! During Christmas Even (called Noche Buena here in the Philippines), demitasse cups of ‘tsokolate’ is the top drink (well, except for those who prefer tequila) made with locally grown cacao. I will have to score some and try it with this simple method!

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Spudtacular New Year!

  4. Sophie

    Hot chocolate made with only water isn’t my cup of tea aka chocolate but I will give it a try though!

    Merry Christmas to you & your family full of hapiness, joy & some good food!

  5. Daily Spud

    Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you Sophie. I have to admit that I did splash a bit of cream into my water-based hot chocolate (and sure there’s nothing wrong with that!)

  6. Daniella

    Bring to the Boil slowly or fast?

  7. Daily Spud

    Hi Daniella – I guess the answer is somewhere in between! I wouldn’t bring it to a rapid boil over a raging heat, but bringing it to the boil over a medium heat, as is specified in the recipe, should do you fine.

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