As with every recipe, ingredients matter here. If you have a favorite nut milk that’s great. If not, consider what milk you buy carefully. Dairy farming is a significant contributor to climate change and environmental degradation, not to mention the myriad animal welfare issues involved in the dairy industry. Things to look out for when buying milk include what breed of cows are being used (most dairy cows have been bred to produce more milk more often which results in more stress, illness and shorter life spans), whether or not the cows are treated with growth hormones or antibiotics, how calves are treated, what they are fed, and how early they are separated from their mothers, if cows are being fed GMO corn, alfalfa, or soy grown as a monoculture or are pasture fed, if the animals have access to the outdoors and what kind of access they have, what kind of grazing practices are used to ensure minimal top soil degradation and erosion, if the cows are restrained in holding stalls or are free to move, what kind of milking practices are used to prevent mastitis, if sensitive ecosystems and/or forests have been destroyed to make room for cattle, and what kind of waste management is used on the farm to prevent water pollution. It’s a complicated system and there is no perfect product, but it’s worth investigating what you’re buying so you know what systems and practices you’re supporting and what you’re putting into your body.
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Maple Bourbon Hot Chocolate
2 cups nut milk or whole milk
¼ cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons bourbon*
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
Combine the milk and chocolate in a small pot over medium heat. Heat until steaming and just beginning to simmer around the edges.
Meanwhile combine the remaining ingredients in a high speed blender. Pour the warm milk and melted chocolate into the blender with the other ingredients and blend on high for 20-30 seconds, until frothy.
Divide between two glasses and enjoy.
*I prefer homemade vanilla bean infused bourbon in this recipe but plain bourbon and a splash of vanilla extract or the seeds from a vanilla bean will work fine. To make the vanilla bean infused bourbon, fill a small jar with discarded vanilla bean pods (as they become available to you) and bourbon and allow the mixture to steep for a few weeks. I’ve had the same jar of vanilla bean pods going for about a year and just keep adding bourbon on top as needed. I also use this in place of vanilla extract in most recipes.