The image of island life is that it is always sunny–nothing but coconut tree-lined beaches and hot tropical days! But the reality is that in the winter the temperature drops from the scorching 90′s and near 10o’s to the crisp cool 70′s. Stop rolling your eyes, that kind of temperature shift is COLD (for us)! We’ve also gone through a period on the island where it rains for days on end. Think we might have to invest in an ark if it continues. “Cold”, rainy, winter nights demand that the blankets come out.
This is our winter–spotted with island sea-blues, greens, and bleach-white sand and our kind of “cold” weather. So, in “chilly” times like this a nice spicy hot drink to keep the tropical winter chill at bay are a MUST! My favorite cup of warmth is a spicy island-style white hot chocolate!
Despite its name white chocolate isn’t actually “chocolate”, but rather coco butter and sugar. It has a subtle buttery pale yellow color and a mildness that compliments almost every spice I’ve thrown at it. This brew is no different! There are tons of spices in this mix!
One of my favorite ways to elevate this mild-mannered “Clarke Kent” drink to its true Superhero status is to add just a dash of cayenne pepper to it. My husband hates the taste of the pepper in this drink. But there is something seductive about spicing up an otherwise “vanilla” flavored drink. Don’t get me wrong, this drink is WONDERFUL without the hint of pepper. But the heat from the pepper along with the velvety richness of the coco butter, and the other island spices that show up, including Bay Leaf, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and even Cardamom, make it a tropical wonderland!
I use three different types of “milk” in this drink–coconut, almond, and heavy cream. I like the richness each adds. I also make the coconut and almond from scratch so they behave differently than the ones in the can or the box. Homemade almond milk acts as a thickener to the drink and adds flavor. You can use one or two or all three. I just love the way they all compliment each other.
Final tip: whatever brand of white chocolate you use, make sure it says “coco butter” as its primary ingredient. I use the bars. Do NOT use the chips. They have NO coco butter, and the drink won’t taste the same.
1/2 Cup Almond Milk
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Ounces Good White Chocolate
1/4 Teaspoon of freshly grated Nutmeg (or more to taste)
1/4 Teaspoon of Cinnamon (or more to taste)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract or one Vanilla Bean (to be decadent)
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1 Whole Bay Leaf
1 Whole but crushed Cardamom seed
Tiny Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Cayenne to taste (OPTIONAL)
Place the almond and coconut milk and heavy cream into a pan on medium low heat.
Add salt, nutmeg, vanilla and almond extracts, Cardamom, Cinnamon, and Bay Leaf.
Let simmer (not boil) for about fifteen minutes or enough time to give the flavors a chance to marry.
Fish out the Bay Leaf and the Cardamom.
Remove the pan from the stove and add the chopped up pieces of white chocolate, letting the warmth from milk melt it into the drink. Stirring until it is completely melted..
Depending on how large your mug is, this will make about two cups.
You can stir in a pinch of cayenne pepper to each mug just to kick up the spiciness! Or you can savor this drink WITHOUT the extra heat. The Cayenne gives it a unique flavor, contrasting the cool pale butteriness of the white chocolate with the exotic burn of the cayenne. It is a unique taste. Again, if you want to play it safe, try it in just one cup!
I relied on the white chocolate to sweeten up this drink. If you like it sweeter, feel free to use the sweetener of your choice.
Top with whip cream and garnish with cinnamon or more chocolate shavings.