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The Best Diet Hot Cocoa and Chocolate

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Inspired by the hot chocolate at off-diet visits to Payard (incredible) and City Bakery (nearly incredible), I went home and concocted my own recipes for sugar-free hot cocoa and chocolate. The better the ingredients, the better will be the results; I used Ghirardelli from Zabar's satisfactorily.

The following recipe makes ½ cup of what I find to be a rich, chocolately, and Atkins-diet-friendly hot beverage, though the small portion size may offset the use of cream for those merely watching their caloric intake. Also note that the high-fat heavy cream somewhat blurs the difference between the cocoa and chocolate versions.

- Bring 2 tablespoons of water to boiling, and put in the top of a gently rolling double-boiler (or a small saucepan afloat in a larger one).

- Add ¾ to 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder (lumps smoothed out), artificial sweetener (I use the herb stevia mixed 1:1 with Sweet & Low) equivalent to one teaspoon sugar, and optionally, tiny dashes of salt, cinnamon, and/or nutmeg. Stir vigorously to dissolve.

- Slowly add 6 tbl heavy cream. Stir to blend, and heat for a few minutes. Stir again and serve.

For hot chocolate, replace the cocoa powder with 3/8 ounce unsweetened chocolate, and perhaps add a drop of vanilla.

Measurement note: 16 tbl = 1 cup

Disclosure: I started out originally with the Joy of Cooking recipe, but the ingredients, proportions, and method render them at this point unrecognizable.

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