Sipping chocolate & chocolate chili ~ Cocoa Bella

brewLast night we actually watched the Oscars. The whole thing. Until midnight. That was mostly because my husband knew he had a snow day in the bag for today, and I needed something for my eyeballs to do while I packed up the house. (Yes, we are moving this coming weekend to a different house in Alexandria.)

I was in and out of consciousness toward the end of the Oscars, because I can’t really stay up past 9:30 these days. Idina Menzel’s (or is it Adella Dazeem? 🙂 “Let It Snow” woke me up, happily, so I could see John Travolta’s blunder and have that wonderful song stuck in my head this entire snow day.

Needless to say, I’m tired today. I’m not looking forward to another evening of packing and — joy of joys — preparing for taxes. (Have I mentioned how fun taxes are for freelancers? It’s like begin held at gunpoint.) I needed something more than that one glorious cup of French press coffee I’m permitted in the morning.

I needed some chocolate, in drinking form, preferably.

brew & cup

Enter, Cocoa Bella Brewing Company. I first heard about this new Virginia-based company at the end of last year and got my hands on a sample. The brew company was founded last year by a 61-year-old woman who makes each batch in her Culpepper country kitchen. It’s now available through Relay Foods and other online retailers.

Now, this sipping chocolate comes out far better when you actually follow directions. We were between coffeemakers with no French press (which is the recommended brewing tool) when we got the sample, so I tried to make it like strong tea. It didn’t work too well.

Now that I am addicted to the French press, I decided to revisit the bag of 100-percent cocoa, finely ground and roasted. The directions call for 2 tablespoons of the cocoa grounds per 6 oz. of hot water. Steep for up to 12 minutes and then French press it out. The beverage becomes a luxury with a little cream or milk and some sugar crystals. The caffeine is minimal — as much as a cup of decaf — and outweighed by the health benefits of pure cocoa.

Take that, snow!

Take that, snow!

The brew meets all the mainstream diet restrictions — sugar free (until you add it), gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, vegan, you-name-it. It has about 20 calories per serving and is chockfull of those cocoa superfood antioxidants.

For those who are used to a thick, creamy cup of cocoa, this is quite different. At first sip, the brew is more like a strong chocolate tea. But a little cream or coconut milk transforms it into something creamy and not-too-sweet. I add a little raw sugar for the full affect.

Cocoa Bella also sells a chocolate chai that’s brewed in a similar way. Like anything brewed in a French press, it takes some practice to figure out the perfect process.

I’ve also used the cocoa in a chili recipe sent to me by the company. If you’re up for trying a new chili — one that’s also pale, Whole30, etc.-approved — I’d recommend this one. It makes a thinner batch with a rich flavor, perfect for pouring over baked potatoes or just eating on (yet another) snow day.

Cocoa Bella Chili

  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup hard cider
  • 14oz beef stock
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 lb grass-fed or other lean beef
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup minced sweet red pepper
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 cup cocoa bella
  • Other additions could include: corn, beans, carrots, etc.

Combine chili powder and cumin; add to the cider. Mix well and let sit for 10 minutes. 

Cook ground beef until it’s no longer pink. Combine beef broth and ketchup in a 3-quart pan and place over medium heat.

Add beef and cider/chili mixture. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add peppers and garlic, and cook for 30 minutes. Add onion and the Cocoa Bella; cook another 30 minutes. (Note: keep the lid on while simmering or much of the liquid will evaporate. Beef broth or water can be added at the end to thin the chili.) 

Serve hot.

Enjoy your chocolate!

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