Creamy date-sweetened spiced cocoa (vegan)

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Something is finally pulling me out of my little blogging hibernation of the past few weeks–my inaugural post for the Recipe Redux! For those of you not familiar, the Recipe Redux is a monthly recipe challenge “focused on taking delicious dishes, keeping them delicious, but making them better for you”. I’m pretty excited to participate!

February’s theme for the Redux was beverages. Earlier this month we had our first really good rain of the winter (a very VERY good thing), and I mixed up this spicy and lightly sweetened cocoa as an antidote to the cold and damp. I added a little hazelnut butter into the mix, which elevated the cocoa to an entirely new level of luxuriousness. It made watching the rain come down that much more enjoyable–winter weather is generally best for viewing, not participating in, right?

This recipe is a little labor intensive, what with the toasting of hazelnuts and the multi-step grinding process, but the good news is that the cocoa paste/base will keep for a while (at least a week) in the fridge, or you can freeze it. So if you’re so inclined, use your next homebound weekend to make a double or triple batch, then break it out as needed through the rest of the winter.

Creamy date-sweetened spiced cocoa (vegan)
serves 4

Ingredients
1/4 c. hazelnuts
8 pitted deglet noor dates
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. chili powder
3 c. almond milk (if making cocoa immediately)

1. Toast the hazelnuts: Place nuts in a skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently for 5-7 minutes, or until skins turn dark brown and begin to flake off. Remove nuts from heat and place in a piece of paper or a tea towel. Twist the nuts in the paper/towel and rub for ~30 seconds. The skins should have largely fallen off.

2. Place the skinned nuts in a food processor fitted with the metal S-blade and process until a nut butter has formed, 5-10 minutes. Add the dates and process for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides and repeat until a relatively homogenous paste has formed. Add the cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg and chili powder and process until dry ingredients are completely incorporated. The mixture should hold together if packed, but will form small granules otherwise:

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3. If making the cocoa base for later use, pack the mix into 8 slightly rounded tablespoons (2 per serving). If making cocoa immediately, heat the almond milk until it is almost boiling. Pour ~1/4 c. of almond milk into the food processor with cocoa base and blend to form a thick sludge. Add the remaining milk and blend for 20-30 seconds, until the base is fully incorporated. The cocoa will be slightly frothy.

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Serve warm and enjoy!

You can see other recipes for the February Recipe Redux by clicking below:

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11 thoughts on “Creamy date-sweetened spiced cocoa (vegan)

    1. Yup, makes for very easy portioning! You could also use ice cube trays to make cocoa cubes–I think I might do that for a larger batch.

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