Healthy Vegan Hot Chocolate Recipe
The first time I tried making vegan hot chocolate myself was a total shit-show. I was doing a little nature retreat by myself in Lake Tahoe, where my grandparents have a cabin that they let all us grandbabies use.
My best friend Dasha (who you learned about here) gave me the idea to spend the week I had up there juicing to see if it would help my skin (so I did and I’ll be sharing that experience soon!). She had just recently watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead about this man who lost tons of weight and seemingly cured his weird skin rash by going on a juice cleanse for over a month. I know we’ve all heard of three and five day juice cleanses but 30 days?! Then he turned it into 60 days!!
What a nut lol. But, hey, he said he felt great and he was getting frequent blood tests and being observed by doctors, so hey if it works for you, more power to ya. I have a friend, Suzanne (actually Matt’s sister in law), who always says “You do you, Ali, you do you.” I love that saying. She usually says it when I’m doing something weird (this happens quite often) which is appropriate because only the weirdos do things that require such a statement. Personally, I like “whatever floats your boat, girlfriend”. Or, in the words of the great Oscar Wilde:
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
So do whatever feels good and right to you and don’t let what anyone else thinks or says have an effect on you. Only you know what’s best for you.
But back to my vegan hot chocolate aka almond milk experience.
I looked up a few recipes and decided it sounded simple enough. 1 cup of almonds soaked overnight, 3 cups of filtered water, 2 dates, a pinch of sea salt, and vanilla beans/extract all thrown into the juicer. Mmmmm yeahhh…if any of you have used a juicer before, you know this didn’t go well for me.
There are two different types of juicers, which I didn’t know at the time: centrifugal juicers and masticating juicers (p.s. did you know mastication is a fancy word for chewing? It’s always fun to tell someone to stop masticating so loudly at dinner). Masticating juicers basically crush and squeeze the juice out, whereas centrifugal juicers spin whatever you put in them at a really fast speed while sharp teeth rip the pulp apart and the juice separates, uh, magically.. The one I had was a centrifugal one which doesn’t work so well for almond milk apparently.
I wish I had videotaped my first try because I turned on the juicer, poured the almonds, water and dates in, excited to watch the almond milk pour out the other side. Instead huge bits of almonds shot back out at me as I shielded my eyes and ducked for cover. Full almonds were getting flung out, pieces flying all over the kitchen, ceiling, my hair, in my eyes. It was like a water ballon that someone snuck almonds into had exploded and debris was flying everywhere.
I laughed as I thought of what Dasha would think if she had known it took me about an hour and a half to start this process and then clean it up. SO not worth it for the measly 12 ounces of almond milk (that looked more like dirty water) it seemed to make. FAIL.
But I didn’t give up – I learned some valuable lessons, got creative and tried a few more times with a few different methods, finally landing on a pretty simple recipe. To make things easier, I soaked the almonds and dates together overnight (this helps soften both the almonds and the dates so they can break down more easily).
Then I used an old crappy blender that they had at the cabin and blended the almonds and dates with 3 cups of water for about 2 minutes. By this point you’ve got “whole” almond milk, now you just have to strain it. You can use cheesecloth, a nutmilk bag, pantyhose, or even a clean towel for this. I used a cheesecloth and just squeezed the shit out of that almond pulpy pulp, getting every last drop of milk out it that I could. F*** Yeah, take that almonds. I made those almonds my bitches.
Then I put the milk back in the blender and added a half a teaspoon of salt (I always use himalayan pink salt, like this one, because it’s actually good for you unlike traditional table salt), a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of 100% raw cacao powder (my favorite is the Navitas Naturals Organic Cacao Powder). Blend for 30 seconds and voila – amazingly delicious almond milk.
Now I just microwave it or heat it on the stove until it’s nice and hot and it tastes exactly like delicious creamy hot chocolate! My favorite! A glass of this vegan hot chocolate was the best way to end every day on this juice cleanse – gave me something sweet and with a little fat and protein to keep my body nourished.
I swear this is much easier than I made it sound – trust me, I learned through trial and error and spent a few times getting this process down to this exact simple recipe. An old blender is really all you need equipment-wise (though I do LOVE my Vitamix 5200 that I have at home and you’ll be able to extract more of the almond goodness using one of those bad boys). Enjoy the recipe below and let me know what you think if you try it!
Vegan Hot Chocolate Recipe
1) In a glass or ceramic bowl add the almonds and dates and cover with water and let it soak overnight (or for 8-12 hours) at room temperature with a towel over the top. I recommend using raw, fresh almonds. We soak them because almonds (as well as other nuts, grains and seeds) have anti-nutrients known as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which make them difficult to digest and also block the absorption of other healthy minerals, which can be minimized by soaking – plus it makes almonds a lot easier to blend.
2) Dump out the water and rinse several times (to get rid of the anti-nutrients!). Then pour the almonds, dates and the 3 cups of water into the blender and blend on high for 2 minutes until it’s as milky as it’s gonna get!
3) Place the strainer of your choice over a bowl and pour the milk on top, gather up the ends of the towel/cheesecloth and twist and squeeze the living daylights out of the pulp until you get all the milk out.
4) Pour the milk back in the blender, adding the rest of the ingredients. Blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
5) Heat the chocolate almond milk and enjoy! Hopefully by the fire or to the sound of rain outside (neither of which are typical here in sunny SoCal, but oh well, what can ya do!).
6) Keep any leftovers for up to 2-3 days in a cold fridge.
Voila easy vegan hot chocolate to nourish the body, mind and soul!