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Hot cocoa, Vermont style. Oh, that chocolate goodness!

Hot damn! Hot chocolate and skiing are the perfect pairing.

Hot cocoa and skiing are the perfect pairingI was in emergency mode the other day after spending some time on the slopes. I thought I had gone through all of my mocha cocoa from Lake Champlain Chocolates.

I tore through my cabinet, which is stuffed with assorted teas and snacks. But this was not a tea afternoon. I craved the cocoa.

Luckily for me, there are several Vermont-based makers of hot chocolate mixes. I came across a list in the winter edition of this tasty-looking new publication called Edible Green Mountains. I had picked up a free copy at the new Healthy Living store in South Burlington.

The article explained that cacao pods emerged as a prized crop in South America. "The explorer Hernando Cortes brought the beverage back to Spain, where Jesuit priests refined the process by adding sugar and removing some the foreign flavors," reports EGM.

Apparently, the Spanish introduced the warm beverage to the French, and they introduced it to the English, and so on. Eventually, an Italian immigrant in America incorporated powdered chocolate with powdered milk to create instant hot chocolate. Bravissimo!

I recall that when I went to Argentina as a teenage exchange student, I got hooked on "submarinos," which were tall glasses of hot milk in which you would submerge a stick of chocolate. After some patient stirring, you could then drink down the chocolate goodness. Yum.

Nowadays I use soy milk from time to time and it's actually quite good to use when making cocoa. Whether I'm using soy or cow milk, I start by warming the milk on the stove and then stirring the cocoa mix in until it melts down. Why waste good cocoa by adding hot water?

I'd say that in New England, hot cocoa is widely considered a treasured winter treat. It goes with skiing like champagne goes with New Year's celebrations.

Some cocoa makers add spices. (Have you ever had Mexican hot chocolate? Delicious!). Others use fair trade or organic ingredients.

Here's a list of Vermont brands of hot chocolate. Some of these places have factory stores where you can drink up or at least purchase the chocolate gold.

And don't worry, I eventually pulled enough stuff out of my loaded cabinet to find my spare tin of mocha cocoa. I had bought a bunch of items for my family at the Lake Champlain Chocolate factory store for Christmas, and I guess I was smart enough to take care of myself too. Damn, I'm good.

Vermont cocoa mixes

Bread & Chocolate in Wells River, Vermont
Check out their chocolate-cinnamon Heavenly cocoa

<link http: clickserve.cc-dt.com link external-link-new-window external in new>Green Mountain Coffee of Waterbury, Vt.
Their Better Wold Cocoa is made with fair trade and organic cocoa

King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont
Three cocoa mixes, including Gourmet Drinking Chocolate

<link http: clickserve.cc-dt.com link external-link-new-window external in new>Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington, Vt.
Six varieties, including Aztec, Old World and Fair Trade Organic

Sweet on Vermont Artisan Chocolates in Burlington, Vt.
They make dark chocolate wafers that melt into a rich hot drink

Vermont Farm Girl in South Burlington, Vermont
Ten varieties of cocoa, including Gingerbread

William Winand Chocolatier in Woodstock, Vt.
One-pound bags of "chocolat chaud" featuring Classic Noirand Chocolat au Lait. Now we're talking business.

 

Photo credit: <link http: clickserve.cc-dt.com link external-link-new-window external in new>Lake Champlain Chocolates

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