Get a superfood boost with this Mint Hot Cacao! Made with the nutrient-rich cacao powder, a few drops of refreshing peppermint oil, almond milk and coconut palm sugar.
Making hot chocolate is a regular occurrence in our household, especially during these colder winter months and through the holidays. And what better way to enjoy a Christmas movie than to curl up with a cup of hot chocolate? But here’s the thing – I think of myself as holding a hot chocolate, but there are so many ways to make that warm chocolately cup of comfort, and the real question is, is it actually a hot chocolate, a hot cocoa or a hot cacao?
You may think of them all as one and the same, and so did I, but when I went to name this recipe, I realized that I needed to be specific, lest one of you is thrown for a loop by a haphazardly titled recipe.
Simply described, hot chocolate is made by melting chocolate and adding milk, cream or water. Hot cocoa is made by combining cocoa powder or cacao powder, depending on which recipe you follow, and sugar with milk, cream or water.
Since I wanted to make it clear that this recipe is made with the nutrient-rich superfood cacao powder, and not the more common cocoa powder, this hot minty chocolatey drink quickly took on the uncreative name: Mint Hot Cacao.
Cacao used to intimidate me because unlike the common cocoa on all supermarket shelves, cacao powder is available in more selective stores and it is more expensive. But I realized that it was silly for me to be intimidated since cacao and cocoa both originate from the same bean.
The main difference is cacao is the minimally processed form of cocoa, and thus retains more nutrients, making it rich in antioxidants, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. (If you don’t have cacao on hand, or aren’t ready to make the jump over, you can substitute cocoa for the cacao in this recipe, but for the most health benefits, it’s best to use cacao.)
Some would also call peppermint a superfood, but I love peppermint because it calms my mind, which is something I definitely need during the hectic holiday season! When making this recipe, keep in mind that peppermint essential oil is very strong – if you’ve never used it before, start with just one drop. Sometimes the drops come out fast from the bottle, so do it over a spoon, rather than directly in the pan. That way, if more than one drop drips out of the bottle, you aren’t stuck with a pot of Mint Hot Cacao that is too zingy for your tastebuds.
I hope you enjoy your holidays, and you’re able to curl up with a mug of this Mint Hot Cacao. I crushed some candy canes and sprinkled it onto these for a festive touch, but they sank right down to the bottom (though it does make a nice little surprise at the end!); in retrospect, a candy cane as a stirrer would probably do the trick!
Mint Hot Cacao (Vegan, GF)
- 2 3/4 cups almond milk (24 ounces / 680 milliliters)
- 3 heaping tablespoons cacao powder
- 3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar (or to taste)
- 2-4 drops peppermint essential oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch sea salt
- marshmallows (for topping, optional)
- candy canes (for topping, optional)
In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the almond milk until warmed. Whisk in the cacao powder, coconut palm sugar, 2 drops of the peppermint essential oil, vanilla extract, and sea salt.
Taste and add in more peppermint essential oil or coconut palm sugar as desired.
Serve warm, with or without a handful of marshmallows and a candy cane topper.