In Maine, where Governor Janet Mills has extended our “Stay At Home” order until the end of May (with the exception, it seems, of getting a haircut, whether you are man, woman, or dog,) it is still early spring.  Yesterday the temperature was above 60 degrees F for the first time this year.   Tiny leaf buds adorn some of the trees, and we have not yet moved from daffodil to tulip season.  The air cools down considerably in the late afternoon and remains cool until mid-morning. 

The new youth minister at our local Episcopal Church asked families this morning (via Zoom, of course) what is helping them to get through this time of social distancing? Having no children, I did not attend that virtual church service, but I would love to have heard the children’s responses. 

Had I been there, I would have waved my hand enthusiastically to tell everyone that I have invented the very best homemade (from scratch) hot chocolate. The hot chocolate season is certainly not over in Maine, and I, being a chocolate fanatic, drink it all year long.

I’ve thought many times since our first retirement community Coronavirus Bulletin came out on March 10, that I would like to share my recipe with my readers in hopes that they might find this delicious drink comforting and something to look forward to daily.  (Being disciplined, I limit my intake to one a day.)

So, here goes:

1 tsp Hershey’s Cocoa (Special Dark)

10 turns on a salt grinder (Coarse Sea Salt)

½ tsp Stonewall Kitchen Sea Salt Caramel (or any caramel sauce you can find)

Hot Water

Half and Half, Cream, or Whole Milk (Nut milk also works)

Put the cocoa in a large mug, grind in the salt and pour in hot water.  Stir vigorously.  Add the caramel sauce and stir again.  Add any kind of cream or milk to taste. If you like very dark chocolate, you can drink it without any dairy.  I have tried adding a teaspoon of peanut butter as well, and it gives a mild “peanutty” taste to the chocolate. The peanut butter doesn’t melt entirely though, leaving a residue at the bottom of the cup when empty.

I started making my own hot chocolate when I realized two things:  1) how much sugar is in the hot chocolate mixture you buy in the store; 2) a diet low in sugar can reduce inflammation in muscles and joints and thus reduce pain. A lot of experimentation led to the recipe above.

What brings you comfort during the long days, weeks, and months of “social distancing?”  It can come in small and unusual ways.  I have spent hours standing at my computer with a mug of hot chocolate on the desk near my right hand during the last eight weeks.  It has accompanied me as I have read and written emails, made cards for friends, drafted poems and blog articles, colored mandalas, and participated in Zoom meetings. (To be honest, the Zoom cocktail hours involve something a little stronger.) 

How are you caring for yourself during the pandemic?  What little treats are you allowing yourself?  What calms nerves, lifts spirits, brings insight, and makes you feel at ease.  What awakens you to the present and prepares you for the unknown future? What is your “simple comfort?”

3 thoughts on “Simple Comfort

  1. Ah, we should have a tasting sometime. I also consider myself a hot chocolate connoisseur. I have to watch my salt intake though. I spend the big bucks on ordering Dutch chocolate and mixing it with Peruvian chocolate and put in a little raw sugar. It’s pretty dark (but then I also eat the 92% chocolate bars). Bohemian Coffee House sells a triple chocolate that’s really good. My hot chocolate and the Brunswick/Topsham Land Trust and 3 banjos is helping me these days.

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  2. I love salted caramel ANYTHING! This sounds delicious! My simple comfort these days hasn’t been as much the WHAT as the WHERE. I’ve been having my second (& third) cups of morning coffee in the garden. It’s warm enough for that now, most days, here in Colorado. And I love watching the light change and listening to the birds. I don’t read or journal or anything else–just enjoy the sights & sounds!

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