November 6, 2011

Drinking Chocolate and Breakfast Spice

Santa Fe is a food destination, and its pioneers are constantly inventing delightful combinations based on traditional ingredients. While walking the sunny city streets, watching locust leaves turn golden and clouds roll off the snow-capped Sangre De Cristo mountains, I noticed a shop I have never visited before: Kakawa Chocolate House


Guadalupe Church
in Santa Fe
Stepping inside was like walking through time into a colorful and richly scented landscape in Oaxaca, Mexico. Altars honoring ancestors covered the mantle above the adobe fire place; purple, turquoise and gold depictions of the Virgen de Guadalupe made from thin silver adorned the white stucco walls. Without a moment of hesitation, I stepped up to the counter and started sampling their chocolate "elixirs", from pre-Colombian blends to modern European ones. Needless to say, cacao's unique flavor transported me to a euphoric place. 


Drinking chocolate is simple to prepare as long as you have the correct ingredients. For a simple version, you will need 85 to 100% bitter dark chocolate and sweetner. These chocolatiers use agave nectar. You can choose maple syrup or honey if you prefer.


Drinking Chocolate:
On medium heat, melt 1 ounce of darkest chocolate in a small pot with 6 ounces of water.
Once chocolate is melted, whisk it briefly. Add 3 Tablespoons sweetener and a pinch of salt.
Altar at Kakawa




Kakawa crafts combinations such as: red chile and rose; damiana and cacao nibs; caramel and nutmeg.


I can't help but think that this incredible drink would combine well with the sweet and spicy flavors of Northern New Mexico. I am proven correct when I take local ingredients to bake a chile cornmeal muffin. I visit the farmers market, where bakers are making delicious breakfast treats while signing up visitors for cooking classes. I gather some simple staples: roasted green chiles, mesquite honey from the hills above Dixon, New Mexico, and cornmeal from the nearby town of Chimayo. When combined and transformed through the oven's alchemy, these foods create a delicious breakfast or snack. Try them with drinking chocolate to warm your soul on a chilly winter day.


Green Chile Cornmeal Muffins


Dry ingredients:
1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
1 cup flour (rice, spelt, or whole wheat)
1 teaspoon each: baking powder and baking soda
pinch salt


Wet ingredients:
1/4 cup peeled, seeded and chopped green chiles (look for Hatch Green Chiles in a can if you cannot find fresh ones)
1/4 cup local honey
1 egg (or 2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds for a vegan version)
1/4 cup milk (almond, goat or cow milk)
1/2 cup oil (sunflower or olive oil)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
Make a well in the center, add the wet ingredients, and whisk them briefly.
Incorporate dry into wet and mix until just barely blended.


Pour into greased muffin tins or a loaf pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, or until edges are golden.
Enjoy!


Take a deep breath and savor the scent of your food before you taste it. Imagine how you can taste with your sense of sight and smell before you sample a dish with your tongue. This practice will help refine your palate to choose your own personal flavor combinations.

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