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Sharing Mountain Recipes
by Randi Lee Levin
This recipe is very similar to that originally developed by the Mayans and Aztecs. Much different from the more traditional hot chocolates of today, it is still very good, although quite spicy. Take a sip, close your eyes, and try to imagine what the world was like hundreds of years ago. When I first made this recipe and tasted it, for some unknown reason I felt as if the ancient ones were right there in the room, smiling down upon me.
Serves 2-4, depending on size of cup


• 2 cups water
• 1 chili pepper, cut in half, seeds removed (with gloves)
• 5 cups light cream (half & half) or whole milk
• 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
• 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks
• 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
• 2 tablespoons sugar or honey, or to taste
• 1 tablespoon almonds or hazelnuts, ground extra fine
• Whipped cream

With gloves on, cut chili pepper in half and remove seeds.

2. In a large sauce pan, heat water to a boil and add chili pepper. Cook pepper until liquid is reduced by half, then strain and put the liquid aside.

3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream or milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick until the liquid scalds or bubbles appear around the edge. Reduce the heat and add chopped chocolate and sugar or honey. Mix until sugar or honey is completely dissolved and the chocolate is melted. Remove the vanilla bean and the cinnamon sticks.

4. Adding a tablespoon at a time, mix some of the peppered water to the chocolate mixture until you reach a desired flavor. (Depending on your taste buds, you may have some extra peppered water; discard or refrigerate for another use.) Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, sprinkle the top with ground nuts.

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