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December 13th is National Cocoa Day

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If you're looking for something to do today then I hope you like chocolate because it's National Cocoa Day!  Who am I kidding... you guys are chocolate addicts!  But let's get right into celebrating National Cocoa Day!

WHY IS THIS A HOLIDAY?  

Because cocoa is just another form of chocolate, and people LOVE chocolate! It doesn't matter if you're referring to hot cocoa or cocoa powder; both are used quite often every single day. But, given the time of year, I'm sure that most like to lean toward the hot cocoa option. And how many of you would turn down a cup of hot cocoa after being chilled to the bone outside? I thought so; those melted marshmallows sealed the deal, didn't they? So when you have something that is too hard to say no to, then people are going to want to celebrate it!  But what exactly is cocoa powder or "cocoa solids"? Well, it comes from the cocoa bean, but it's what is extracted without all the fat; the cocoa butter is the fat that causes chocolate to melt. So it's a low-fat powder, but I have to say that it's quite bitter on its own. And it appears that the flavonoids in cocoa powder actually help out your cardiovascular system. So, if you don't overdo it with the sugar, hot cocoa can actually be a bit healthy for you.  And it's not like hot cocoa, hot chocolate, chocolate milk or whatever you want to call it is something new... even the Mayans were sipping on chocolate drinks! But to be fair, they did drink it cold... but it doesn't have to be hot to be considered a cocoa drink, right? And I have to say, their drink was a bit more complex than the hot cocoa you may be used to; it had chili peppers and cornmeal in it...  Are you up for a thick and spicy, cocoa drink?

HOW TO CELEBRATE 

So, how can you celebrate today?  Well, it's not going to be that hard for you to locate hot cocoa today... I can promise you that! I mean, most diners would gladly bring you a mug of it and they even sell it at sporting events, around this time of year. And that's beside the fact that you probably already have some cocoa mix in your home! So just keep your eyes peeled and let your taste buds tell you when they want some warm, liquid cocoa magic to pass over them.  But if you're going to make your own, then why don't you get a little creative? Be all manly and mix it into a protein drink, drop in a few of your favorite candies (that you know will melt in the heat), stir it up with a candy cane or mix in some other kind of powdered goodness. Heck, if you're going with straight cocoa powder, then you're going to need to sweeten it up, right? Well, then why don't you melt down some chocolate ice cream for the sweetness? It'd be one heck of a hot cocoa and trust me; melted ice cream makes for an awesome drink!  But you don't have to drink your cocoa today... you can bake with the cocoa powder too! You can make a chocolate cake, chocolate icing, brownies and you can even dust truffles with it. There are so many recipes out there that use cocoa powder that you should have no problem with flexing your baking muscles today. But you could get really creative by making chocolate bread, spreading chocolate icing on the bread and then sandwiching a brownie between two slices of your special bread. That might be too much cocoa for some, but you can handle it, right?  Have a great day and you're welcome, chocolate lovers!





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