A key for happiness: a cup of hot cocoa

hot cocoa drink from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchenI am really lucky because I was grown up with a mother who considered feeding and caring as her calling, although she always had a real- mostly quite demanding- job. Spring started with the elderflower season from which she prepared syrup. Followed by the strawberries and raspberries which we freezed. She prepared marmalade from apricots and compote from peaches and pears. In winter we had a big stock of apples in the cellar which lasted until the end of the season. We didn’t take any vitamins, actually that time there weren’t any available. Instead, every evening we got a spoonful of honey from my mother to strengthen our immune system. My childhood was full of tasty and scented memories, that was for me the natural way of living. Only later on I realized that this was not so general and natural for everybody as I thought before.
The most I loved the weekends when my mother stayed at home and was working in the kitchen which- we knew from experience- always had a good outcome. We started the day with hot cocoa made from real, dark Dutch cocoa powder that my mother kept as a treasure in a metal box in the kitchen cupboard. I still remember a Saturday morning quite clearly. I was about 6 years old, a little blond girl with big blue eyes and a soul always longing for love. I waked up early in the morning and slipped out of the bed quietly while my sister was still sleeping. I went to the kitchen because I was sure my mother will be there. She was standing at the stove, with her metal-framed glasses on her nose and was preparing hot cocoa. The little kitchen was filled up by the scent of the hot milk, the bitttery cocoa and the pinch of sugar that my mother had already mixed into it. My mom smiled at me, took me into her arms and I was hanging there keeping my favourite blanket in my hands and thought that life couldn’t be any better. Then I got some whipped cream on top of the cocoa or a bread roll cut into pieces that I could dip into the hot drink while whatching my mother preparing lunch for us.
Since then for me preparing traditional hot cocoa is the expression of love and care. If the weather is a bit depressive, if somebody next to me is in a bad mood, or the soul needs a bit of warmth I cook hot cocoa that is a healing for everything.
Today it is raining like waterfall, for the first time since I moved back from Spain. The little creek is like a river now, the water flows wildly. People are running on the street keeping their coat tightly, because of humidity it feels more cold than it is. I take the red and blue mugs that were always dedicated for hot cocoa in my childhood. You cannot notice that they have been serving breakfasts for a half century already- not only us but my mother as well when she was a child. The blue one was mine so I keep it still for myself. 10 minutes stirring and cooking and I can already drink the hot, foamy bittersweet hot cocoa. While I am putting an extra spoon of whipped cream on top I am thinking that sometimes the most simple things have the biggest impact on our lives. Like a mug of hot cocoa drink. Not a simple kind. A special one seasoned by lots of love.

Hot cocoa

Ingredients for 2 mugs:

2 mugs of milk, 2 tsp Dutch cocoa powder, 4 tsp sugar, 200 ml cream, confectioner’s sugar according to your taste

Heat up the milk and mix the sugar and cocoa powder in a mug. When the milk is already hot add a spoonful of it to dissolve the cocoa and sugar carefully. Add a little bit more milk then pour the mixture into the casserole and bring it again to boil. Whip the cream with the confectioner’s sugar and top the hot cocoa with it.

hot cocoa drink from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen

hot cocoa drink from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen hot cocoa drink from the Taste of Memories countryside kitchen

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer is a food photographer, chef and writer living in a small village in Northwestern Hungary. Her bilingual blog, Taste of Memories is about life in the Hungarian countryside. While she is bringing new life into the 90 year-old house and orchard of 18 fruit trees she cooks and bakes her family’s old recipes and tries to preserve traditions and old knowledge about how to live in rhythm and harmony with nature.

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