There are easy ways to celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day, January 31st (although, hopefully your celebration extends beyond a packet of instant mix).
And then there are the recipes that transform a cup of hot chocolate into something very different and special.
This recipe adds a touch of the exotic, with tamarind puree.
The tamarind tree, Tamarindus indica, is a member of the Fabaceae botanical family, commonly known as the legume, pea or bean family. When you see its pod-like fruit (photo # 5), you’ll note the immediate connection.
While most Americans associate tamarind with Indian cooking. India is the largest commercial producer. Tamarind pulp is a key ingredient in flavoring curries and rice in south Indian cuisines.
However, the tamarind fruit is native to Africa, where it grows wild around the content in areas as diverse as Cameroon, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.
It also grows wild in Oman, on the Arabian Peninsula; and the fruit’s name derives from tamar hindi, Arabic for “Indian date.”
The immature fruit is sour. It becomes more palatable as it ripens.
The ripened fruit is dried and turned into a paste or a purée, as well as an extract. The flavor is used in desserts including baked goods, puddings, ice creams and sorbets; in jams; snacks; and in drinks such as juices and sweetened drinks.
In the Middle East, from the Levant to Iran, tamarind is used in savory dishes, particularly meat-based stews; and is often combined with dried fruits for a sweet-sour effect.
In Western cuisine, the most common use is in Worcestershire Sauce.
Ingredients For 2 Servings
*Here’s an easy replacement for tamarind purée: Mix lemon or lime juice with an equal amount of light brown sugar. Use 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice with equal amounts of light brown sugar for every teaspoon of tamarind concentrate you’re replacing.
1. COMBINE all ingredients except for the chocolate in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes.
2. REMOVE from the heat and fold in the chocolate. Add 4 ounces of mezcal/tequila. If the beverage has cooled while folding in the chocolate, reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds.
3. SERVE hot in a mug or a snifter.
Want a simpler recipe?
The following version was created by Milagro Tequila’s National Brand Ambassador, Jaime Salas.
Ingredients Per Serving
1. MAKE the hot chocolate by melting the chocolate or chocolate mix in the hot cream, according to package directions. Stir in the chili powder and cinnamon.
2. HEAT the hot chocolate to the desired temperature. Remove from the heat and stir in the tequila.
3. TOP with the whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
> THE HISTORY OF HOT CHOCOLATE