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Mucho Gusto

Haitian Hot Chocolate

The holidays are here; the year is coming to a close, and for many of us this season is a time for reflection and resolution. I have put a lot of time and thought into my resolutions this year and, after looking in retrospect at my immense two decades of wisdom, I’ve decided to denounce the winter season. You may wonder, “how could he say something so controversial yet brave?” or exclaim, “but, Christmas is my favorite holiday!” By the time you finish reading this, though, you too may reconsider your relationship with Jack Frost. 

The winter season has been romanticized incessantly by popular culture. Between cheesy Hallmark movies, holiday specials of your favorite shows, family ski trips, the Winter Olympics and so much more, we have been spoon fed pro snow propaganda for centuries. 

The first and most common pro winter argument you may hear is the beauty of the winter landscape. While I can’t argue with the breathtaking view of a fresh snowfall or glistening ice, I can remind you of the aftermath. The pure white snow only stays white for so long before becoming a beige, slushy mess, and the glassy icicles on trees and buildings often become concussions and insurance claims. It’s absurd we’re expected to tolerate damp socks and wear hardhats for a quarter of the year just for a pretty short-lived view. 

Another reason people romanticize winter is the weather. Oftentimes, those who prefer winter will base their preference on their disdain for the heat and humidity of the summer season. This is a fair justification, but proponents of this hot versus cold debate often overlook the many negatives of this tradeoff. Consider the following scenario: You wake up on an average winter day in an area that regularly receives snow. You check the weather forecast and it will be between 15℉ and 25℉ plus windchill all day. You consider wearing a stylish pair of shoes. Nope, boots only. Your toes might freeze off. You consider wearing a nice outfit, but what’s the point if you’re going to cover it up with a coat all day? Changing songs or responding to a text on your walk to class or work is now an arduous process if you choose to wear gloves or mittens. After you’ve finally made it indoors, you now have to find a place to put your massive fluffy coat, or else the heat, which is almost always cranked to max, will cook you alive. The back of your chair is oftentimes the only storage option, but standing up or adjusting in your seat almost always drops your coat onto the floor and into the aforementioned beige slush that has been tracked in on everyone’s shoes. By themselves, these minor inconveniences seem tolerable, but by the time spring rolls around, they’ve accumulated and can turn even Wim Hof into a passionate winter hater. 

The final and weakest winter myth I’ll debunk surrounds food. Winter creates the perfect environment to enjoy hot, hearty foods and beverages, right?… Wrong! While a hearty tomato soup or hot cup of tea are fantastic remedies for a gross winter day, the existence of Haitian Hot Chocolate shatters the box we’ve lived in for so long. It’s a deliciously rich hot chocolate traditionally made with aromatic spices and unrefined chocolate. This adaptation, though, uses cocoa powder instead of raw Haitian chocolate for its accessibility.  Despite the Caribbean heat and sun, my parents grew up drinking it year round. 

Although I personally can’t afford to move away from winter as a broke college student and leech on my parents, I hope I’ve convinced you to make the superior choice. If not, I hope you make this hot chocolate regardless. Whether you have a winter wonderland outside your window or are lounging under the hot sun, it’s truly a treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons unprocessed cacao powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise 
  • 1 ¾ cups evaporated milk
  • ⅓ cups white granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

In a large saucepan combine the water, cacao powder, cinnamon stick, and star anise and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly to avoid clumps and sticking to the saucepan. Simmer for approximately five minutes or until your cocoa powder is well incorporated and mostly clump free. Add the evaporated milk and sugar and simmer for an additional five minutes. Strain your hot chocolate with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, add the salt, and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Yummy Medley’s Haitian Hot Chocolate: Perfect for Cold Winter Days! 

Cover photo courtesy of Yummy Medley

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