COCOA BOMB RECIPE
When the multi-talented Natalie Wise asked us to contribute a recipe for her new book, our favorite forest-y combination of mint, pine and maple seemed like a no-brainer for a delicious hot chocolate drink. A published poet and the author of a slew of how-to lifestyle books like Happy Pretty Messy, Gifts in Jars, The Natural Cleaning Handbook and the Self-Discipline Handbook, Natalie’s latest book is chock full of fun, creative, delicious and festive ideas for gourmet hot chocolate treats with easy to follow instructions and sourcing guides. We are excited to be a part!
As you know, we use a lot of foraged herbs in our chocolates, so I was inspired to include some that I feel especially drawn to in this recipe. I have loved the flavor of spruce since I was a small girl. My father planted spruce trees along the perimeter of our property and an early memory is popping off the tender, light green spruce tips in the spring and eating them, the citrus-y resinous flavor waking up my senses like all of the flowers budding, plants sprouting up and trees leafing out. Later on I was to learn that spruce is high in vitamin C, and that native american peoples used spruce as medicine for respiratory complaints.
I love pairing spruce with mint, two aromatic spices that are powerhouses of flavor and medicinal properties in traditional practices, and both grow in our Northern forests. The old adage that “what grows together goes together” rings true to this Vermont chocolatier’s tastebuds in that mint and spruce and the rich, mellow sweetness of maple are the perfect combination of northern flavors, and they compliment bittersweet chocolate beautifully: at once warming and cooling, creamy and sharp, bitter and sweet.
Visit Natalie’s website here and use code COCOABOMBS for 10% off the book, molds, and more (no expiration date)!
Here is the recipe and method (slightly edited to make sense for a blog post):
Makes 15 or 16 cocoa bombs (cut the recipe in half if desired)
22-24 oz dark chocolate, tempered
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup ground dark chocolate (We recommend our luscious 65% Drinking Chocolate)
2 Tbsp ground dried mint*
1 Tbsp ground dried spruce needles**
16 small pure maple sugar candies (leaves are a great size and shape to fit in the bomb)
* It will take roughly 4x as much whole dried mint and 2x as much whole dried spruce needle to get the above measurements.
**Tips on the spruce needles: Only use wild or farmed spruce needles that you are sure have not been sprayed by pesticides, anti-dessicants or other chemicals (so not spruce from your Christmas wreath or “snow”-flocked tree!). Make sure they are thoroughly cleaned and dried before using. You can get culinary spruce needles that are ready to use online, we love Halifax Hollow’s Vermont wildcrafted spruce (she has an Etsy shop here).
Grind the mint and spruce fresh in a spice mill or coffee mill (be aware that you will make your coffee mill smell like spruce and mint and their strong aromas will flavor your coffee beans for a few grinds to come!), set aside.
You may need to make the shells in several batches if you only have one set of molds. Melt the chocolate and pour 1-2 Tbsp into each mold and use a brush or the back of a spoon to make sure the chocolate fills in all of the mold and up the edges. Refrigerate 5 minutes to set. If the edges are thin carefully brush more chocolate around the edges and refrigerate for 5 more minutes.
Unmold the shells and let them come up to room temperature. Set aside half of the shells as tops. Melt the edges of the bottom six halves by placing them edge-down on a large, flat frying pan on low heat on your stove, just a second or two will do it. Be very careful when doing this part not to touch the pan with your skin!
In a medium bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, ground chocolate, ground dried mint and ground spruce needles. Place 2 Tbsp in the bottom of each shell. Top with a small maple candy. Melt the edges of the leftover shells and attach the tops. Let set.
To use your Cocoa Bomb
Place a hot cocoa bomb in the bottom of a mug. Add 8 ounces of very hot milk or plant-based mylk and stir well. if you’re not into the texture of the spruce needles, you can allow them to steep for a few minutes to infuse the flavor into the hot milk and then strain out the needles. This drink is perfect for apres-ski, in front of a fireplace, a morning winter cup to wake up, or in a thermos on a snowy hike.