Healthy vs decadent hot chocolate

 

Hot chocolate

It was quiet here on Sourdough&olives last week. It was because I was up in the north of Sweden on vacation.
I had a week of incredible nature experiences and skiing, completely disconnected from blogging and social media (well, almost).
But now I’m back, rested, and loaded with food inspiration.

We ate some great food up there in Tänndalen, such as burgers on local highland cattle with truffle mayo. Or how about pizza with marinated reindeer and caramelized red onions.
So in a way, I was not disconnected from my blog at all. I found inspiration for new recipes and blog posts almost every day.
But sometimes the weather becomes very harsh in the Swedish mountains. One day the temperature was -5ºC (23ºF). That’s not so cold really, but in combination with a wind speed of almost 38 mph, it can be a bit unpleasant.

You get cold VERY quickly.

But there is a cure.

Hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate is the optimal outdoor winter drink. The kids love it, and with a few tweaks, you can easily make it more adult. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to pour a lot of rum or other brownish liquor in your chocolate (even though I can recommend that also). You just have to think a little bit different regarding the ingredients.

Choose your chocolate wisely.

Let’s start with the chocolate. Or perhaps you should consider using cacao powder instead. In Sweden, it’s a long tradition to use cacao powder in our hot chocolate. The health benefits of using cacao powder are greater than if you use chocolate. Cacao powder can be a challenge to find, and shall not be mixed up with cocoa powder. It’s not the same thing, and the difference regarding nutrition content is quite big. With that said, cocoa powder is not a bad alternative. It’s just not the superfood that cacao powder is.
Unfortunately, there’s also a difference between different brands of cacao powder. Choose one that has been processed at low temperatures. That goes for you Swedish readers as well. The brand with the stylized eyes on the package that most of you probably use is not the best choice.

Cacao powder

Does all this sound complicated? Perhaps you’re not interested in any health benefits, just some pure pleasure.
Use chocolate instead.
It will give you a hot chocolate with a rich taste and a smooth, slightly creamy consistency. Just make sure to choose chocolate of good quality and high cocoa content. The higher the cocoa content, the better. You can always balance the bitterness with some sweetener.

Milk or cream? Or perhaps water?

Yes, it is possible to make hot chocolate with cacao powder and water. If you’re aiming for a healthy hot chocolate, or if you’re lactose intolerant it can be an option. You will get a quite pronounced chocolate taste if you use water and cacao powder.
You will also get a very healthy drink, as cacao beans are considered a superfood.
Cream, on the other hand, is a little bit too much in my opinion, even for the “decadent” version.
I think whole milk (3-3.5% fat content) is the best alternative, especially if you’re going to add cream on top.

Sweetener and spices.

If you’re going for the chocolate variant, you may not need to add any sweetener at all. It depends on how sweet or bitter the chocolate is.
If you’re using cacao powder, you need to add some sweetener. Cacao powder contains no sugar at all, and your hot chocolate will be a very bitter story without sugar. I prefer muscovado sugar, but feel free to use whatever sugar you have at hand.

Cinnamon

I like to add ground cinnamon to my hot chocolate as it blends perfectly with the chocolate taste. Chocolate goes well with many things, like cardamon and even chili, but cinnamon is my favorite.
But there is one more thing that I always add to my hot chocolate. A magic ingredient that enhances the chocolate taste and lifts the drink to another level.
And the best part is that it’s something that everybody already has among their spices.

Salt.

You don’t need much. Just a pinch.
Do you hesitate? Think about those fancy and expensive chocolate bars with sea salt you can buy in the grocery store.
Salt is a must, I promise.

Hot chocolate closeup

 

Hot chocolate

That’s all you need to make a top-notch hot chocolate that will warm your body and soul on a cold winters day. Adding some whipped cream on top makes it even more luxury and decadent. And if you persist that there should be some rum in hot chocolate, I will not disagree.

Hot chocolate

 

Print Recipe
One healthy + one decadent hot chocolate
One healthy and one decadent hot chocolate. Choose which one you prefer, and let it warm your body and soul on a cold winters day.
Hot chocolate closeup
Servings
glasses
Ingredients
Healthy hot chocolate
Decadent hot chocolate
Servings
glasses
Ingredients
Healthy hot chocolate
Decadent hot chocolate
Hot chocolate closeup
Instructions
  1. Bring water or milk to a simmer, not boil.
  2. Add cacao powder and whisk until no lumps remain. If you use chocolate, whisk until all chocolate has melted, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until suger and salt has melted.
  4. Pour the hot chocolate into a high glass or cup, and top with whipped cream. Dust with cacao powder.
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Easy sourdough rye bread recipe

 

Sourdough rye bread

It’s about time I bake something with more rye, don’t you think? Most of the bread you find among the recipes on this blog contains mainly wheat flour.
For some strange reason, wheat flour seems to have a higher “status” than rye when it comes to baking. Besides, it is good for your health if you replace some wheat with rye
Despite that, bread baked with wheat flour seems to have a leading position on blogs (mine included), sourdough forums, and Facebook groups.
It’s weird because one of the most important reasons for baking with sourdough starter is that you get bread that tastes more.
I think you’ll agree with me when I say that sourdough rye bread tastes more than wheat. Still, most people seem to favor wheat bread.

Why is that?

One reason can be that it’s hard to bake bread with airy crumb if you bake with rye flour. Wheat flour is superior when it comes to that thanks to its high gluten content.
You also have to be more careful when kneading a dough with rye flour than with wheat flour. You can overwork it. Something that is quite hard with wheat dough.
Sometimes you don’t want bread that tastes too much, for example, if it is to be served to food.
Or perhaps some people just don’t like rye bread. What do I know?

I know one thing.

I like rye bread, and I think there are many of you who do the same.
So let’s start baking some great bread with a lot of rye.
When I say a lot, I don’t mean all rye. We will add some wheat flour, but only 40%. That gives you bread that is not so dense like bread baked only on rye tends to be.
If you don’t use your dough mixer, there’s no risk that you will overwork the dough. A few stretch and folds will be enough.

PREPARING THE DOUGH

As I mentioned earlier, I used both rye and wheat flour for this recipe.
The Protein content is 12.5% for the wheat flour and 8.5 for the rye.
The hydration is 75%. You may have to adjust that figure if you’re using stronger flour.
I’ve used my wheat starter (coaxed with some rye), but feel free to use a rye starter if that’s what you have available.
All ingredients were mixed, except the salt. After that I let the dough rest for an hour. I say rest and not autolyze. According to the hardcore sourdough aficionados, the starter is added after the autolyze. And I don’t want to mess with those guys.
After the rest, I added salt and performed the first stretch and fold.
I have described that process earlier in this recipe. Here you can also find an excellent video showing how to do.

rye sourdough

BULK FERMENTATION

Try to find a warm place for the bulk fermentation, preferably 78ºF/25ºC. That can be tricky if you are living in the northern hemisphere at this time of year. I use to place the dough in the oven with the lamp lit. That works fine, but you have to be a bit careful. It can be too hot, so I use to open the lid now and then and check the temperature with a thermometer. I let the dough ferment for 4 hours.

FINAL RISE

The time required for the final rise depends on many factors. The surrounding temperature and the strength of the starter are just two of many. You can let it ferment at room temperature or in the refrigerator depending on taste and how much time you have. Fermentation in cold temperature takes longer of course, but it also gives more taste to the bread. The end result can be quite sour though, so if you don’t like that, you should consider letting the dough ferment at room temperature.
It’s almost impossible to give advice about the time required for the final rise. Therefore I have stopped doing that. Instead, I encourage my readers to observe and touch the dough. The finger poke test gives you a hint when it’s time to bake. I have described the test in an earlier recipe, and you can read about it here.

bread is a celebration

 

TIME TO BAKE

Preheat the oven to 480ºF / 250ºC. I have used a baking stone for the bread on the pictures, but you can also use a dutch oven with good result. If you don’t have any of those items, It’s OK to use an oven sheet.
Always score the loaf before baking. Otherwise, you may end up with some interesting but undesired forms on your bread.
Always use steam in your oven when baking bread. It doesn’t have to be anything advanced. An extra preheated oven sheet that you can pour some water on before you close the oven lid is OK. Steam prevents the surface from drying out and gives the crust a more pleasant color.
This bread needs about 35 minutes in the oven. You may have to lower the heat during the last 10-15 minutes.

Sourdough rye bread close up

This is not a fancy or spectacular bread. It’s just an ordinary, hearty sourdough rye bread. The kind of bread I want for breakfast. Like my best sourdough bread, It’s quite easy to bake. I just have to bake this more often.

Crumb shot

 

Easy recipe for sourdough rye bread

 

Print Recipe
Easy sourdough rye bread recipe
This recipe for a sourdough rye bread is quite simple. But it will give you bread with lots of taste and character from the rye.
Sourdough rye bread
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Sourdough rye bread
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except the salt. Make sure that all flour is hydrated. Let the dough rest for an hour.
  2. Add salt and perform one stretch and fold. Perform 3 sets of stretch and folds in total during bulk fermentation, spaced out by 30 minutes.
  3. Let the dough rest for 4 hours at a temperature of 78ºF/25ºC.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and dump out the dough. Divide it into two pieces with your bench knife. Flatten the dough gently with your hands. Form each piece of dough to a bâtard There's a link to an excellent video showing how to form a bâtard in the recipe notes
  5. Let the loaves rise until they pass the the finger poke test. The time required depends a lot on ambient temperature so don't look at the clock.
  6. Preheat your oven to 480ºF / 250ºC with two oven plates. One to bake the bread on and one just below. If you have a baking stone or dutch oven, use them.
  7. Score the loaves in your preferred pattern and place them in the oven. Pour some water on the plate below and bake each loaf in 35-45 minutes.
  8. Let the breads cool on wire racks.
Recipe Notes

For those who prefer to use a stretch and fold technique instead of running the dough into a dough mixer, you may find this video helpful. You can also look at one of my previous recipes.

Maurizio from The perfect loaf has made an excellent video showing how to form a bâtard.

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