Hi all. This is Jacqui — a lovely young woman I became acquainted with at The Herb Shoppe in Brooklyn — holding a mug of her delicious cocoa chai. I have the story and the recipe, but first, let’s sip something delicious and back track a bit:
Brooklyn is huge but it was just a small town when founded by Dutch settlers who dubbed their new home “Breuckelen” in a nostalgic nod to a town in the Netherlands. No offense to the Dutch, but “Brooklyn” has a nicer ring to it than Breuckelen. (Not to mention, it is infinitely easier to spell.)
I love living in Breuckelen. I mean Brooklyn! We have everything from Victorian townhouses so grand they make you gawk with admiration to industrial landscapes so picturesque they leave you speechless; we have wealth and squalor and everything in between; we have hipsters and a great many diverse ethnic enclaves.
Atlantic Avenue, a major street that begins at the Brooklyn waterfront and stretches a great length East is a good example of this diversity. On the waterfront end there is a mosque and a bunch of middle eastern shops and let’s not forget good ol’ Trader Joe’s, and then, there is a stretch lined with a cluster of hip, trendy stores and restaurants. Yet a further stretch will take you where there is nothing but you and the road and a somewhat desolate urban industrial landscape. I have not stretched any further than that! But venture further and you will hit Queens. So I’m told.
One of my favorite haunts on Atlantic Avenue – ensconced in that cluster of pretty stores I told you about — is a charming and delightful establishment called The Herb Shoppe. They offer an amazing array of all manners of familiar and exotic herbs and spices and botanicals and loose teas, all invitingly and temptingly displayed in rows of glass jars and bottles. It is one of my happy places! What I like about the store is that you are helped but you are not hovered over. The vibe is friendly, not fake and fawning, and if you ask a question, you’ll get an informed and enthused answer. I also like that you can purchase in bulk or in as small a quantity as you wish, so that you can experiment with herbs and spices without having to spend a fortune.
I first wandered into The Herb Shoppe over a year ago while on a wild-goose-quest for edible dried rose petals. Which: they carried! Jacqui, the lovely young woman profiled here, was behind the counter. We struck up a conversation during which I may have brought up Fig & Quince (ahem) and the whole bit about Persian food blogging. Since then, I have gone in now and again looking for everything from sage to turmeric to what not. At some point Jacqui mentioned some of her recipes and they all sounded enchanting! I begged her to share one. And she indulged me and did!
And this, my friends, is how Jacqui and I ended up meeting on a freezing cold January day in Brooklyn to bring to you a yummy & delicious- smelling raw cocoa concoction. In an attempt to Persianize the whole affair, Jacqui is enjoying the cacao drink while sipping it from an old-fashioned-style Persian tea cup!
Now just check out the ingredients: cacao, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, honey, vanilla, and milk. Talk about an ingredient list that sings!
Thank you Jacqui for sharing your lovely recipe! It was fun! And you guys: the recipe is below. Click!
- 1-2 tablespoon raw cacao powder
- A pinch (about 1/4 tsp )
- cardamom powder
- cinnamon powder
- ginger powder
- clove powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Honey to taste (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 cups almond milk (can substitute soy milk or regular milk)
Add milk in a small saucepan and heat on low or med until hot. Add all ingredients and mix well. Remove from heat and enjoy!
This recipe is really based on taste and what you like. Adjust quantities to your preference.
Serve hot, hot, hot! Enjoy!