I much prefer a cup of hot cocoa in the morning to a cup of coffee. The problem with most commercial hot cocoa mixes isn’t gluten but, rather, hydrogenated oils and weak flavor. I choose a decent quality cocoa powder (avoid generic brands…Hershey’s makes a wonderful product for everyday use, in my opinion) and I add coconut cream powder for richness without the dangers of hydrogenated oils. I know some folks feel strongly about avoiding saturated fats completely, so you can read my post about coconut oil to find out a bit more about why I am a fan. Coconut cream powder is powdered coconut milk, not coconut flour or shredded coconut, and it can be found at most Asian markets or from Wilderness Family Naturals.

Vanilla sugar is also a wonderful addition, but you can use regular sugar and add a dash of vanilla extract with the hot milk as well. If you are in France, you can just add a couple packets of sucre vanillƩ to the mix and use regular granulated sugar.

We don’t have a microwave in our room currently, so I usually fill the cup about 3/4 full with very hot water from the electric tea kettle and then fill it the rest of the way with whole milk from the fridge, which brings my cocoa to just the right temperature for immediate sipping. Can you tell I take my cocoa pretty seriously? šŸ˜‰ Enjoy!

  • 3 C dry milk
  • 2 C vanilla sugar
  • 1 Ā½ C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4z coconut cream powder
  • 1 tsp table salt

Mix ingredients together thoroughly and store in a covered container. Fill a mug about a quarter full of hot cocoa mix and add hot water or milk. Stir well and enjoy.

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Spiced pear crisp

May 11, 2010

Pears are plentiful here in France these days. And the pears I am finding are perfect for a baked dessert, ripe but firm. You can substitute honey or simply sugar for the Port if you don’t happen to have any around, but the Port is a wonderful bridge between the delicate sweetness of the pears and the spiciness of the cloves and cinnamon. It gives the dessert some nice color as well. I also used a raw cane sugar (turbinado) in the toppingĀ  instead of brown sugar, simply because brown sugar is hard to find here. But, to my delight, the raw sugar added wonderful flavor and crunch, so you might like to give it a shot.

Topping

  • 1 1/3 C gluten-free oats
  • 2/3 C sorghum flour
  • 1 1/4 C brown sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 1 C (2 sticks) of salted butter

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and work the butter in with your fingers or a fork until everything is incorporated (or pulse in a food processor).Ā  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Filling

  • 3 lbs pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T Port
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 whole cloves

Toss the sliced pears with the lemon juice, port and cinnamonĀ  in a large round cake pan or a 9 x 13 pan. Scatter the three cloves among the pears. Take the topping out of the refrigerator and crumble it over the pears. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbling at the sides of the pan. Serve warm.