CREATING HOT COCOA CLASSICS

Cocoa is a comfort beverage. It is often the drink of choice for a relaxed Sunday morning, just before bedtime, or after a late dinner. Hot cocoa is a classic American beverage—warm, satisfying and best of all it’s made from pure, 100% chocolate.

Hot cocoa’s origins go far beyond Bosco or Ovaltine. In fact, cocoa beans were so revered by the Aztecs they were used as money.             Upon returning to Spain, Cortez introduced King Charles V to sweetened hot cocoa, and not surprisingly, it soon became the rage of the aristocracy. For more than a century, cocoa remained the domain of the wealthy and privileged.

Now cocoa is accessible to the average Joe and civilization is better for it. Its warmth and flavor marries beautifully with a wide range of products, making it a great foundation for delicious cocoa-based drinks. —RP


COCOA DRINKS AT A GLANCE

• DIFFICULTY OF PREPARATION: 3.1 OUT OF 10 — It’s hard to imagine a style of drinks that are easier to prepare. Gravity does most of the heavy lifting. For the most part, cacao drinks are prepared directly into the glass in which they’re served. The recipe ingredients meld together when the hot cocoa is added. Add whipped cream or frothed milk and the drink is done.

Occasionally a recipe may call for the ingredients to be flash blended. In this instance, the products are to be poured into an empty blender canister and the machine quickly turned on and off. Remember to put the lid back on. The short burst not only integrates the products thoroughly, it also lightens the drink by injecting it with a bazillion tiny air bubbles.

[Scale 1– 10: A drink with a value of 5.0 or lower means it can easily be prepared in one’s sleep, while a rating closer to 10 indicates that it takes several days to prepare and requires an advanced degree.].


• UP-SELLING POTENTIAL: 3.7 OUT OF 10 — Cocoa-based concoctions are rarely branded with premium products. In fact, it’s hard to imagine someone wanting to add Cognac or other equally pricy products into these drinks when such extraordinary results are achieved with less expensive spirits and liqueurs.

 [Scale 1– 10: A drink with an up-selling potential of 5.0 or higher means it’s a financial thoroughbred, a cocktail tailor-made for top-shelf spirits. A rating below 5 signifies a drink in which the brand of spirits used are of secondary importance compared to the overall effect looking to be achieved.]


• ALCOHOL POTENCY: The alcohol portion in most cocoa drinks is diluted 5:1 or more by the other ingredients making them less potent than most cocktails. Another moderating affect is that people tend to drink hot cocoa at a slower pace, which in turn will slow the rate the alcohol is absorbed into a person’s bloodstream. The alcohol potency of these drinks drops even lower when ice cream or a layer of frothed milk is added.

[As a general rule, 1 1/4-ounces of distilled spirits is equal in alcohol to 4-ounces of wine and 10-ounces of beer.]


• PORTIONING CONSIDERATIONS: Hot cocoa drinks are typically prepared with no more than 2 ounces of alcohol—spirits and liqueurs—and up to 8 ounces of various alcohol-free ingredients. Proportions typically range between 1 part alcohol to 4-6 parts mix. When devising a hot cocoa drink, be conservative with the amount of alcohol used. Making the drink stronger then involves no more than a minor flick of the wrist. However, if you use too much alcohol relative to the size of the glass the drink is not as easily fixed.


• SEASONAL ORIENTATION AND TRADE PERIOD: Toasty warm cocoa drinks were once considered only cold weather fare. The proliferation of cafes and coffee houses around the country has dramatically changed our perception of the marketability of hot drinks. Although all-seasons appropriate, if it’s sweltering outside you may want to recommend these drink be served over ice. There are times when cold and delicious trumps hot and delicious.

Like lacing a milkshake with some brandy, Chambord and Kahlúa, hot cocoa libations are dessert-like and therefore primarily served after dinner or as a nightcap.


• GLASSWARE OPTIONS: Create a masterpiece, present it in a worthy glass. Insulated glass offers the best of all options. Its thick, yet transparent character allows guests to appreciate how attractive these drinks look.

Hot cocoa specialties are invariably served in coffee glasses, which usually range in capacity between 9-12 ounces. Preheating prevents glasses and ceramic ware from cracking due to thermal shock. Preheat glassware with simmering hot water to preheat, or throughout the evening keep your cups, saucers, mugs and demitasses mouth down on the vent tray on top of the espresso machine.


• ALCOHOL-FREE OPTIONS: 9.6 OUT OF 10 — To some, the cup of hot cocoa is an end in itself. To others, it’s more of a blank canvas waiting to be transformed into a singularly delicious drink. Its rich, robust flavor marries beautifully with a wide range of products. Indeed, when it comes to alcohol-free alchemy, hot cocoa has nearly unlimited creative possibilities.

[Scale: The rating of 9.6 out of 10 indicates that alcohol-free variations of these drinks are plentiful and easily crafted. In fact, omitting the alcohol in many coffee-based drinks may well go unnoticed.]


CREATING COCOA MAGIC

Devising great hot cocoa drinks involves the least amount of genius and has the highest likelihood of eliciting a standing ovation. Chocolate is a flavor so ingrained in our psyches that creating sensational drinks with it is almost foolproof. It’s about as straightforward as mixology gets.

At Finest Call, we’ve created a range of products ideally suited for creating piping hot works of art. So have fun, experiment and remember there’s no such thing as making a mistake with hot cocoa.


• FINEST CALL FRUIT PUREES — Created to deliver a concentrated blast of fresh fruit flavor, Finest Call Fruit Purees are indispensable behind the bar and fabulous mixed with coffee. For example, the STRAWBERRY CREAM COCOA derives much of its flavor from the addition of Finest Call Strawberry Puree. The same can be said for the purees used in the CHOCO-NANA (banana) and COCOA CONTENTÉ (raspberry).

Our purees are made entirely of premium varieties of fruit picked at their peak ripeness. Having done nature one better, shelf-stable fruit purees allow you to fully deliver on the promise of fresh without the attendant hassles.

Our unbeatable range of premium purees includes FINEST CALL RASPBERRY PUREE, FINEST CALL STRAWBERRY PUREE, FINEST CALL BANANA PUREE, FINEST CALL MANGO PUREE, FINEST CALL PEACH PUREE and FINEST CALL PASSION FRUIT PUREE.


• FINEST CALL PREMIUM FLAVORED SYRUPS — Sometimes a splash or two of flavor is all that’s necessary to propel a drink into the extraordinary range. To that end, we’ve created a line of flavored syrups developed specifically for use in cocktails and drinks. Almond-flavored Finest Call Orgeat Syrup is especially delicious when added to hot cocoa. Recipes featuring orgeat and other flavored syrups include:

Choco Chatter (Finest Call Orgeat Syrup)

Chocolate Cherry (Finest Call Cherry Syrup)

Huckleberry Hot Chocolate (Finest Call Huckleberry Syrup)

Strawberry Cream Cocoa (Finest Call Strawberry Syrup)


• FINEST CALL DRINK INGREDIENTS — We’ve made it our business to develop the finest, high quality drink fixings possible. As a result, many of our products wind up being used in ways we didn’t originally foresee. For instance, as it turns out Finest Call Agave Nectar Syrup is a perfect complement to the flavor of hot cocoa.

Other recipes calling for the use of Finest Call’s premium drink ingredients include:

Canadian Toe Toaster (Finest Call Bar Syrup)

Cuddle-Up Cocoa (Finest Call Agave Nectar Syrup)

Lemon Bliss Hot Chocolate (Finest Call Agave Nectar Syrup)

Chocolate Orange Truffle (Finest Call Triple Sec)


MAKING WORLD-CLASS COCOA

One of the great features of making a cup of cocoa is that it doesn’t require specialized equipment or training. Although there are many ways to make hot cocoa, the following is a typical scratch recipe.

In a saucepan over a low flame, whisk together 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup of water. After the powder and sugar go into solution, stir in another 1/2 cup of water and a cup of milk. Keep stirring over low to moderate heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring from the bottom of the saucepan at a low temperature to prevent scalding. Once the mixture is hot, remove the pan from the burner and let cool. Serve with whipped cream, marshmallows or both for a finishing touch.

There is any number of variations on this theme. Some recipes call for the addition of vanilla extract, cloves, cinnamon, lemon juice, instant espresso powder or mint chocolate chips for flavor. Cornstarch or arrowroot can be added for thickening. Substituting brown sugar for regular granulated sugar is another creative option.

Then there’s the Mayan hot cocoa recipe made famous in the movie Chocolat. It’s made with milk, pure cocoa, unbleached flour, dark brown sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla, grated nutmeg, cloves, crumbled cinnamon and chili pepper. The drink is spicy, robust and highly aromatic. It’s likely the most exotic version of hot cocoa, yet may also be the most captivating.


COCOA DRINKS — TIPS FOR PROS

Warmth coupled with soul satisfying flavor make an irresistible combination. A well-crafted, well-conceived hot cocoa drink is a thing of timeless beauty. They’re capable of soothing frayed nerves and thawing frostbitten extremities. Equally important, they’re capable of generating great sales. Have fun, experiment and concoct the next international phenomenon.

Here are some pointers to help you create your own cocoa masterpieces.


• COCOA COCKTAILSNowhere is it written that you can’t lace hot cocoa with something a wee bit stronger than syrup. As a collective they’re outrageously delicious. It’s hard to make a mistake when working with hot cocoa.

For example, the altogether delicious CANADIAN TOE TOASTER derives its extremity-warming abilities from the addition of brandy, Canadian Whisky and Peppermint Schnapps. The CHOCO-NANA is braced with a shot of gold rum and Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, while the features the likes of Kahlúa and silver tequila.


• COCOA MODIFIERS — Under the category of why leave well enough alone, consider adding a dose of hot fudge, caramel and chocolate sauce to your hot cocoa. They’ll add to the flavor, as well give the drink more body. If adding a sauce is more of a concentrated blast of than what you’re looking for, perhaps a splash of black raspberry or vanilla syrup is the ticket.


• ICE CREAMOn the other hand, it may well be time to drop a scoop or two of ice cream into your cocoa concoction. Shortly after splash down, the melting ice cream forms a frothy layer atop the cocoa for a fabulous presentation. The coup de grace is there’s a wide variety of ice cream flavors that work with hot cocoa, a list that includes banana, chocolate, French Vanilla, raspberry, strawberry and Almond Roca, to name but a few.


FINEST CALL COCOA RECIPES

CANADIAN TOE TOASTER

Coffee glass, heated

Build in glass

1 oz. Finest Call Bar Syrup

1 oz. Brandy

1 1⁄2 oz. Canadian Whisky

1 oz. Peppermint Schnapps

3 oz. hot chocolate

3 oz. coffee

Garnish with whipped cream and cocoa powder


CHOCO CHATTER

Coffee glass, heated

Build in glass

1 oz. Finest Call Orgeat Syrup

1 oz. Vanilla Rum

6 oz. hot chocolate

Garnish with whipped cream drizzled with chocolate syrup


CHOCOLATE CHERRY

Coffee glass, heated

Build in glass

1 oz. Finest Call Cherry Syrup

1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

1 oz. Baileys Irish Cream

6 oz. hot chocolate

Garnish with whipped cream


CHOCOLATE ORANGE TRUFFLE

Coffee glass, heated

Build in glass

1 oz. Finest Call Triple Sec

1 oz. Brandy

1 oz. Crème de Cacao

6 oz. hot chocolate

Garnish with whipped cream and grated orange peel


CHOCO-NANA

Coffee glass, heated

Pour ingredients into an empty blender canister

1 1⁄2 oz. Finest Call Banana Puree

1 oz. Gold Rum

1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

6 oz. hot chocolate

Flash blend

Garnish with whipped cream drizzled with chocolate syrup


COCOA CONTENTÉ

Coffee glass, heated

Pour ingredients into an empty blender canister

1 oz. Finest Call Raspberry Puree

1 oz. Silver Tequila

1 oz. Kahluá

6 oz. hot chocolate

Flash blend

Garnish with whipped cream sprinkled with shaved chocolate


CUDDLE-UP COCOA

Coffee glass, heated

Build in glass

¾ oz. Finest Call Agave Nectar Syrup

1 oz. Dark Rum

1 oz. Kahlúa

6 oz. hot chocolate

Garnish with whipped cream


HUCKLEBERRY HOT CHOCOLATE

Coffee glass, heated

Build in glass

1 1⁄2 oz. Finest Call Huckleberry Syrup

1 oz. Vanilla Vodka

6 oz. hot chocolate

Garnish with whipped cream drizzled with Finest Call Huckleberry Syrup


LEMON BLISS HOT CHOCOLATE

Coffee glass, heated

Build in glass

1 oz. Finest Call Agave Nectar Syrup

1 1⁄2 oz. Limoncello

6 oz. hot chocolate

Garnish with whipped cream and grated lemon peel


STRAWBERRY CREAM COCOA

Coffee glass, heated

Pour ingredients into an empty blender canister

1 1⁄2 oz. Finest Call Strawberry Puree

1 oz. Vanilla Vodka

1 oz. Crème de Cacao

6 oz. hot chocolate

Flash blend

Garnish with whipped cream drizzled with Finest Call Strawberry Syrup

Difficulty of
Preparation

Upselling
Potential

Alcohol-Free
Options