I think I’m finally coming to terms with my culinary identity, and that identity is putting a Persian twist on many classic foods, i.e. hot chocolate. It occurred to me that there’s Mexican drinking chocolate, but no Persian equivalent. At the moment of this realization, I knew that I just had to explore the unexplored: hot chocolate made with classic Persian spices. For those who haven’t ventured into the land of sweet Middle Eastern spices, then you – my darling friends – are really, really missing out and I encourage you to take this recipe as a sign from beyond to start!
You’ll often see saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon as the most common spices used in sweet dishes; I like to call them the Holy Trinity of Persian sweets. Cardamom provides this lingering, breath-freshening perfume, while saffron lends a very delicate and coquettish fragrance and flavor. The cinnamon, in my opinion, acts like the backbone of this trinity. You can detect its presence, but often times, you can’t quite put your finger on it. Without it however, the difference of the final flavor is akin to the difference between a hailstorm and a summer day on the beach in Hawaii.
When combining this flavorfully demanding trinity with the ever-flexible, earthy-richness of the chocolate, your palate experiences a dynamically assertive burst of flavors. Softened by a hint of creamy coconut milk, you can quite literally see the flavors – the spices, the chocolate, the coconut – melding into a harmonious symphony which dances down from your mouth to your very toes. This delectable drink is fantastic hot, but also superb when served cold. The choice, of course, is yours!
Persian Spiced Dark Hot Chocolate/Iced Cocoa
• 1.5 TBSP cacao powder
• 1 tsp of Ceylon cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp ground saffron
• 3 cardamom pods, crushed or powdered
• 1 TBSP of coconut sugar or brown sugar
• 4-5 TBSP of coconut milk or full fat cream
• 8-10 oz of hot water
1. Boil the water.
2. While the water boils, grind the saffron and cardamom to a powder (it’s okay if the cardamom is gritty as it sinks to the bottom of the mug and acts as a breath freshener).
3. Place all of the dry ingredients into your favorite mug and once the water has come to a boil, pour a small amount (approximately 3-4 tbsp) into the mug and stir the dry mixture with the water until a thick paste is formed.
4. Add the rest of the water while stirring constantly, to ensure a lump-free consistency.
5. Let the drink cool down to a temperature of your liking and enjoy! This drink is also excellent cold!