Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hot Chocolate - no sugar - no artificial sweetners

The snow is finally here in the Netherlands! The day we returned from Austria it snowed about 6 inches, causing the last 3 km (of our 900 km trip) to take 1 hour instead of 10 minutes. The roads and trains were all a mess, but the beauty and fun that is snow made it all worth it the next day when we woke up to this:
We even got to skate on our local pond! The Dutch are crazy about skating, and so am I. Unfortunately, my 32 year old skates finally bit the dust. They had belonged to my mom when I was a child, and she used them to skate on Keuka Lake. I used them in college when I took skating as a gym credit, and on Rochester's Manhattan square park ice rink. The skates have been in storage (out of the sun) for the past few years we've lived here and when I tried to put them on, they just fell apart.
I was lucky my friend Inge was also skating with her boys and our timing was perfect- she was finishing up when we arrived, so she loaned me her skates.
On the first Sunday since the super cold temperatures have hit us here, I think the entire village showed up to skate on the pond. Some people were playing hockey, some people were pulling their kids on sleds on the ice, some were having hot beverages at a table set up on the ice. Gezellig!
The hockey game even had uniforms of sorts!
Even the dogs had fun on the ice:
When we got home, I was craving hot chocolate. While I can't say I'm actively trying to eliminate sugar from my diet, I am trying to reduce my sugar intake. A sugarless hot cocoa search on the web gives you lots of artificial sweeteners and pre-made packets, but why not use a natural sweetener like honey?
Confession: I forgot to take a photo until there was just a half cup of cocoa left. It reminded us of melted chocolate ice cream. Rich, thick, hot and pure chocolate.
Next time, if I'm shooting for a vegan version, I think I will try this with oat milk, as that seems to be the closest thing to milk without that tell-tale soy flavor.

Hot Chocolate (sugarless, no artificial sweeteners)
Makes three 5 oz (155 ml) servings
2 cups low-fat milk (475 ml)
1/4 cup packed (30 g) Dutch processed cocoa (regular cocoa is probably okay to use, just use a quality brand)
2 1/2 Tbsp honey (75 g)

1. Bring milk to a simmer over low heat on the stove. Add cocoa, whisking to combine for several minutes. Add honey, and stir until completely combined.

Personally, I found that slightly less honey (about 1 tsp per 1/2 cup of the cocoa/milk mixture) was enough for my tastes, but my daughter liked about double that level of sweetness, which is what this recipe calls for. I even enjoyed the cocoa/milk mixture unsweetened and also liked it added to my coffee.

Doesn't this photo remind you of one of the old Dutch masters' paintings?
I sometimes feel like I'm living in the past, but in a good way.


  1. I have only been ice skating twice in my life, but never on a frozen pond! Looks like a good time.

    I may try making my own hot chocolate like this, but using soy milk and agave as a sweetener. ;D

  2. Hi Kerri, Agave sweetener- what a great idea. I haven't used it yet but have been hearing a lot about it lately. Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Hi. I stumbled on your blog when I was searching for a hot cocoa that doesn't use sweeteners, not even artificial ones. What a surprise; you're in Holland. What's the word...Kismet? I love everything about Holland because my grandfather was born there, in Friesland, a very long time ago...yet I know very little about it. I sometimes check out a blog that's written by another American woman (married to a Dutchman) named Heidi; she's lived in The Netherlands for 25 years now. She has posted photos of Friesland environs; I don't know exactly where she lives. One of her blogs is The Cranberry Chronicle. She seems like the nicest person; her blog revolves around food, garden, crafts, sewing, lifestyle, local travel, arts, books. I'll come back here to your blog when I have more time, as I want to know what you're all about; sounds intriguing. I'm in Calif./USA. My ancestors settled eventually around Utica, NY once they came to America; my grandfather would ice skate on the frozen Erie Canal. His ice skates were made of wood.

  4. hi Vicki! Thank you so much for the comment. What an interesting story about your grandfather. Friesland is considered 'far away' from here (by Dutch standards) and we hope to visit that region while we are here. Utica isn't far (by US standards- although further away than we are from Friesland!) from where I grew up in Elmira, NY. We've seen many wooden ice skates for sale here, as mementos... although they are quick to point out that some people do still use them!