Jamaican Hot Chocolate

Want to try a chocolate drink that's just a tad different from the rest? Sip some Jamaican hot chocolate

You know, Jamaican hot chocolate is one of those recipes that wonderfully illustrates chocolate's incredible versatility, and our human willingness to experiment with this natural ambrosia. Oh, and it's mighty tasty, too.

If you've tried it, you'll understand where I'm coming from. If you haven't, then keep this in mind: as a true extremo who's tried chocolate in hundreds of dishes and combinations, from all over this world, my very enthusiasm ought to be a hint that it's worth testing for yourself.

Extreme In Its Own Way

Now, let me warn you: the Jamaican variety of hot chocolate isn't like the hot cocoa you've tried before, though it's a close cousin. It's kind of a combination of traditional cocoa and the cocoa nib tea I wrote about a while back, actually.

I learned about it when I was browsing a Jamaican store across town and found a package of five Jamaican chocolate balls packed with nutmeg and powdered cinnamon, advertised as "Jamaican Chocolate Tea Balls." It was cheap, so I bought some. Best idea I had all week.

A Few Experiments

I hadn't previously thought about Jamaica as a chocolate producing nation, but of course it is. True Jamaican chocolate balls must be made of Jamaican cacao beans, of course, and formed by hand into unsweetened golf-ball sized spheres to be the real thing.

You may be able to find these chocolate balls at an ethnic market like I did, or you can get them off the Internet. If worse comes to worst, though, you can use unsweetened baker's chocolate. I've tried it both ways, and it seems to work.

Plus, I went a little further with a recipe I found online. It goes beyond the mere tea aspect, which is where you grate the chocolate into boiling water, steep for a few minutes, and then flavor with cinnamon and nutmeg. So let's get to it!

The Recipe

This recipe requires patience and elbow grease, but it's worth the effort. This will make about four cups, maybe a bit less; scale it up for more.

1 Jamaican chocolate ball (or an ounce of baker's chocolate)
3 tablespoons of sugar
ΒΌ cup of sweetened condensed milk
1 quart of water
A pinch of salt
2 cinnamon sticks

As you bring the water to boil on the stovetop, grate the chocolate ball onto a plate with a medium grater. When the water's boiling, add the chocolate and cinnamon and let it boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After taking it off the heat, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Then remove the cinnamon sticks, pour your Jamaican hot chocolate into your favorite mug, and enjoy the mild, sweet flavor!