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Spiced Hot Cacao

drink your antioxidants

Story by The Cupboard July 10th, 2015

Some summer days in San Francisco will trick you. They are grey, damp, windy, and you’ve been transported back to January. Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but today is definitely a day I’ll be staying inside. And, I can’t think of a better recipe to warm up the body with other than freshly made hot cacao.

I’ve been a little obsessed with raw cacao these days, adding it to smoothies, desserts, and yogurt. Cacao is chock full of antioxidants and is one of the highest food sources for magnesium, making it a super food. This recipe is spicy, rich, and satisfying. It‘s full of spices (also super foods) which are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which keeps our immunity strong and bodies energized.


You may be asking, what’s the difference between raw cacao, cocoa, and chocolate?

Raw cacao is unheated and minimally processed. The cacao beans have been broken down into small pieces, or nibs, keeping intact the fiber and nutrients. Cocoa is the heated and processed form, many of the nutrients are intact, but, as with any processing, some are lost. Chocolate is one step further up the processing ladder and end in an array of products, from bakers chocolate to a hershey’s bar. Choose chocolate products that have at least 70% cacao content and minimal in processed sugar! These will give the super food benefits that we love.

A few notes on the recipe:

Milk: almond milk is used in this recipe, but any kind of “milk“ will do the job.

Cacoa vs. bakers chocolate - I like this recipe because it has the texture of Mexican chocolate and you can taste the granules of cacao. But, if you don‘t like this texture, use bakers chocolate and the end result will be smooth and silky.


ingredients + needs

2 cups milk of choice (almond, raw, oat) + 2 tbsp

1/2 cup cacao (raw, ground)

1/2-1 tbsp honey

3 strands of saffron

pinch of cayenne

1/4 inch turmeric (grated and juiced) or 1/2 tsp dry

1/2 inch ginger (grated and juiced) or 1 tsp dry

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

dash of black pepper

pinch of sea salt


double boiler

mortar and pestel




prep time: 5 minutes | cook time: 15 minutes | serves: 2

1. Prep

Grind cacao nibs (I use a coffee grinder), set aside. In your mortar and pestle grind the saffron into a powder, add a bit of water (it‘ll turn bright yellow); grind until all threads have dissolved. Set aside.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.

2. Melt

Add the dry ingredients to the boiler boiler; Bring the water in your double boiler to a boil. Occasionally stir for about 5 minutes.

3. Mix

Add ginger and turmeric juice (if you‘ve used fresh roots). Add saffron and 2 tbsp of your milk of choice, stir and mix thoroughly. Add the honey. Mix thoroughly. It will end up being like a thick paste.

4. Whisk/blend

In a separate sauce pan heat up the milk. Add the cacao mixture and whisk for a few minutes until thoroughly mixed. OR, put the drink into a blender and blend until smooth and frothy.

5. Serve

Serve warm or chilled.


Nutrition Perks

Raw Cacao: I think there‘s a reason why we‘re so drawn to this magical stuff. It‘s loaded with antioxidants, is rich in iron, sulfur, copper, potassium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and dietary fiber. It‘s a natural mood booster and enhances both physical and mental well-being. Try to always eat cacao (chocolate) that hasn‘t been overly processed and with little (or no) added sugar.

Saffron: Used traditionally in middle and east residing countries (Iran to India, saffron has many benefits and medicinal uses. Some uses include: supporting feminine health (for PMS, cramps, irregularities), reducing inflammation in the body, supporting the lungs, and it has anti-depression qualities. It‘s a good source of vitamin b6, iron and potassium, vitamin c, riboflavin, thiamin, copper, selenium, magnesium and manganese.

Cayenne: Supports good digestion, stimulates the circulatory system, and supports weight loss. It‘s a good source of riboflavin, niacin, iron, magnesium and potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin a, c, e, k, b6, and manganese.

Turmeric: There‘s been a lot of studies on turmeric and its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and ant-cancerous components. It‘s full of vitamin b6 and c, magnesium, dietary fiber, iron, potassium, and manganese. Fun fact: add a dash of black pepper to increase the absorption of turmeric by 1000%!

Ginger: Another medicinal root, ginger aids in digestion, relieves nausea, is anti-inflammatory, and boost immunity. It contains high amounts of potassium, copper and manganese.

Nutmeg: Uses include: relieves nausea, supports liver and kidney, and blood flow. It‘s a great source for manganese, copper, dietary fiber, and has a small amount of calcium, iron, B-vitamins, vitamins a and c, folate, riboflavin, niacin, and the flavonoid antioxidants.

Cinnamon: Great source of dietary fiber, calcium and manganese, vitamin k, iron.

Honey: Try to get as local as possible when it comes to your honey. Local honey is a great aid in calming down any pollen allergies, is anti-bacterial, among other benefits. Contains niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Footnote: nutrition information gathered from cronometer and
San Francisco, CA, United States