I finally found myself craving hot cocoa last week. The Fall chill has descended. My persimmons are starting to ripen. And I can comfortably wear a blanket thrown around my shoulders all day like an enormous parka.
Last Tuesday on a whim I slid into the kitchen in my sock-feet and whipped up a couple of warming mugfuls of this pumpkin hot chocolate. I wasn’t really expecting to be so in love with it on the first try (seeing how it was completely improvised with what I had on hand). But, since it was such a stunner from the get-go, I made it a few more times (*ahem* every day last week).
It has yet to become old hat. As I’m easily bored by food things, that’s really the sign that this cocoa is killer.
The method is a bit atypical. Whereas most cocoa requires whisking cocoa powder into milk warmed over a stovetop, my method requires adding everything to the bowl of a high powered blender and whirring until frothy. I like it blended, not stirred.
Not to mention that the ingredients are, uh, unusual.
There’s cocoa, pumpkin, a spice blend called hawaij (cardamom / ginger / nutmeg / cloves / cinnamon), a touch of almond butter and coconut cream, dates and hot water.
Somehow, like magic, all of this comes together to make a frothy, rich, pumpkin-infused cocoa. It’s entirely new and yet comfortably familiar. It’s exceptionally cozy at it’s core. The perfect thing to sip whilst sinking your whole body into a sea of soft blankets and watching Dazed and Confused over and over and over.
I discovered hawaij about a year ago when Molly Yeh posted these doughnuts.
I was getting nauseously bored of all of the pumpkin spice malarky that takes over the internet every Fall (seriously how is it still such a big thing?!? I mean. I like it too. But can we move on please?).
The point is, hawaij was my saving grace. It was everything I really wanted pumpkin spice to be: heavy on the cardamom and ginger, light on the cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.
It’s a much less heavy-handed spice combination than “pumpkin spice.” I find it is really more nuanced, feminine and graceful. Perfect as a substitute for pumpkin spice things across the board.
Hawaij is a Yemeni spice blend designed to be brewed with coffee (it mellows out bitter flavors). But it’s brilliant alongside chocolate as well, hot chocolate in particular.
And no doubt it’s badass in pumpkin pie. Like in this vegan pumpkin pie I spiced with hawaij last year!
But this year marks a whole new reason to become fanatically obsessed with hawaij.
There’s a really really really adorably illustrated recipe for it in Molly’s new book, Molly on the Range!
You guys, this book… I don’t know if I’ve loved a cookbook more since Relish (which is a graphic novel, and is more of a story with a couple of illustrated recipes thrown in… you should read it, it’s great).
Molly’s book is not only stunning and beautifully photographed and fun as hell… it’s also got loads of illustrations and personal stories and hilarious recipe descriptions. It’s like reading an illustrated biography with a mac n cheese flow chart and a recipe for Jerusalem Bagel Dogs you can cook over a campfire.
In true Molly style, the book is a good mix of cultural mash-up recipes and hilariously named comfort food. Of course, there’s marzipan, tahini, funfetti, latkes, scotch eggs, farm lunches, THREE mac n cheese recipes (plus that flowchart I mentioned), challah, hot dishes, halva and snow cones.
I think it’s worth a buy just to have a book on your shelf that’s also, you know, a friend.
But, since I know you’ll ask, no it’s not vegan… or gluten free.
It’s truly eclectically omnivorous.
But there are loads of veg-friendly recipes! From pastries and breads to snacks, sides and dinners. There are some gluten-free-friendly and dairy-free-friendly recipes in there too! I mean, don’t you want the recipe for Latke Sundays with Chocolate Ice Cream and Cayenne Sprinkles???
And of course Molly’s “Ex-Boyfriends Meatless Balls” meatball recipe is on my must-make list for the Winter.
I’ve used the hawaij recipe in her new book for my date-sweetened vegan hot chocolate here. It’s amazing and I’ve been keeping it on hand for all of my fall treats. I’ve even been sprinkling it on nut butter slathered rice cakes!
Anyway, this vegan pumpkin hot chocolate… it’s like drinking a chocolate pumpkin rainbow.
If that’s not enough to convince you, I don’t know what is!