Back in the winter of 2008, my (now) wife and I were just new. It was a wet, cold winter and we spent many hours snuggled up in each others arms reading and talking etc (ahem).
One stormy evening she (Joyous) arrived with some mysterious ingredients and set about concocting me a treat in the kitchen, while I lazed around on the sofa. Soon delicious chocolatey spicy smells permeated the house and she presented me with a steaming cup of Lucian Cocoa Tea.
It was hot so I blew on it, then took a small sip. Down my throat slipped a thick velvety creamy chocolate spiced drink, that was followed immediately afterwards with a hit of chilli. It was unbelievably delicious – seriously unbelievably delicious. Almost magical. Every sip made me feel like I was being enchanted, as it warmed my throat and lined my belly I felt I was swallowing a little part of her gorgeous chocolatey spiciness, and I was quickly becoming addicted.
We’ve had it a million times since, and I love it every time, but none so much as that first bewitching falling-in-love occasion.
It’s our celebration drink, our impressing visitors drink, our ‘remember the days’ drink, our special occasion drink, our comfort-in-hard-times drink… We took a thermos camping on a deserted beach and drank it at sunrise on New Year’s Morning 2009. We once took it in small plastic bottles to see the All Blacks win a rugby match (the bottles went in our pockets to keep our hands warm, before warming our bellies). NYE 2009 we took it for a picnic on a wild West Coast beach at sunset then when it got too windy we drove home and sat under an old walnut tree in our back garden finishing off the thermos of it and listening to the sound of parties going on around us in the neighbourhood. We have it every Christmas morning, at Easter, on birthdays. Some lazy Sundays I wake to the sound of the cocoa stick being grated, or the wafts of chocolate filling the house…
I recommend you make it for someone you love, (or would like to love), soon.
Joyous’ St Lucian Cocoa Tea
Approx 6 tablespoons of freshly grated Cocoa Stick*
2 fresh (preferably) Bay leaves
Freshly grated Nutmeg to taste (or ground nutmeg)
1 good sized Cinnamon Stick (or a few smaller pieces)
2 C Water
2 C Milk
Raw sugar to taste
1-2 Tbsp Cornflour (to thicken)
1-2 whole dried Chillies (Not traditional but awesome!)
A few fennel seeds (Traditional in St Lucia)
Approx 45g best quality grated dark chocolate (eg 70% +)
2 C Coconut Milk or 2 C Evaporated Milk can be substituted for the regular milk, or use half milk and half cream
Grate the cocoa stick (using your finest grater or a microplane zester), into a heavy bottomed pan, add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick/s, and some finely grated nutmeg (we use a zester), for your first time try about 1/4 of a whole nutmeg. Add the chocolate, broken into pieces.
Pour in the water and bring it to the boil stirring the whole time, then turn down to simmer for as long as you can wait (10 mins minimum).
If you want to reuse the cinnamon stick, you can remove it now and wash and dry.
Add the milk (or 1 C milk and 1 C cream if you are really trying to impress), add the chilli/s now if you don’t want it too hot (if you like it with a kick you can add them earlier on in the cooking process).
Lastly, if you wish to thicken it, whisk 1-2 Tbsp of cornflour into the milk before you add it to the pot. Obviously, the more you use, the thicker it will be. If you do this step, then whisk the milk into the pot so it does not form any lumps.
Simmer for at least 5 more minutes then pour into mugs. You may need to strain it if you did not use a zester for the cocoa as it may be a little grainy. It’s a good idea to fish out the chilli and chuck it back in the pot or you or your loved one may get a big surprise.
Add sugar to taste, stir well and…make love!
PS - If you are using this recipe as a seduction technique…make sure you do not handle the chilli…or your love may get a very painful surprise later on…
A poem to read on a stormy night whilst falling in love and drinking Cocoa Tea:
Rain – Hone Tuwhare
I can hear you making
small holes in the silence
If I were deaf
the pores of my skin
would open to you
And I should know you
by the lick of you
if I were blind:
the steady drum-roll
sound you make
when the wind drops
special smell of you
when the sun cakes
But if I should not
smell or feel or see you
You would still
wash over me
* Sourcing/Substituting Cocoa Stick:
The best kind of course is Lucian Cocoa Stick which can be brought there at the markets. In the UK you can most likely purchase it in Brixton, in the US try a West Indian stockist if you have one nearby. As a substitute you can use Cacao Powder or the best quality, strongest Cocoa Powder available (eg a Dutch Cocoa powder.) In NZ, use Koko Samoa, available at the Otara Markets and some supermarkets, or give Cacao a go.