…or nuts for cocoa. On our recent trip, we enjoyed views like this:
I know. It sucks, doesn’t it? I did get off the beach and out for a little exercise by taking the dog for a walk.
The cocoa beans on St. Lucia are processed into cocoa sticks, which sort of look like tootsie rolls on steroids, but they’re hard and dry. They’re made from crushed, fermented cocoa beans that have been hand-rolled into logs. To make the cocoa tea, you grate the cocoa stick:
Then simmer it with water and spices, such as bay leaves, cinnamon, and nutmeg:
That’s a nutmeg on the right above, with the mace still around it. You break off the mace, then remove the shell to reveal the nutmeg inside.
Then you can grate it:
After simmering your grated cocoa stick and spices, add milk and sugar to taste. The cocoa tea is lighter than hot chocolate, since it’s a mixture of water and milk. The spices make it yummy.
Although the grated cocoa looks sort of like cocoa powder, it’s not at all the same thing. The cocoa sticks are made from the entire cocoa beans (ground nibs), while cocoa powder is what’s left after you remove the cocoa butter. The powder from the cocoa sticks tastes nutty and roasted and is a bit crunchy.
When I’m finished with the sticks I bought (darn… I should have bought a whole bunch of them!), I may experiment with a substitute. The best choice would probably be to buy cocoa nibs and grind them. But I might play around with grated unsweetened chocolate or regular cocoa powder and see if I can come up with something.
The recipes vary greatly in their proportions of cocoa/water/milk, but this is how I made it:
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
3 Tbsp grated cocoa stick
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp sugar
Bring water to a boil with cinnamon and bay leaves. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add cocoa and nutmeg. Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes. Take off the heat, add milk and sugar.
Remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Strain through a mesh strainer to remove larger chunks.
Amounts of all ingredients can be adjusted to taste.