The Cocoa Imperative


OH and I have a habit of exchanging Interesting Facts of the Day.

I suppose it started when we first each had our own laptop, and would sit and read about news, current affairs, scientific breakthroughs, trivia etc in our own little info-tech bubbles. Neither of us is really the silent sort though, and now and then we break out with the need to impart information and beat it to death.

One day recently, OH picked up his laptop, heaved himself out of his comfy chair and brought it to me1.

‘Here, read this,’ he said. ‘This will interest you.’

I took the laptop from him and read an article about how cocoa improves memory in 50-60 year olds and returns their memory to that of 30-40 year olds. Wow.

Me: ‘Wow. That’s great, isn’t it?’

OH: ‘But it has to be cocoa …’

Me: ‘Yes, I imagine that it’s the Dutching process that destroys the flavonols in chocolate.’

OH: ‘What? What’s Dutching?’

Me: ‘Dutching … it’s done with most chocolate to remove the bitterness. The good, dark chocolate is probably OK. People expect that to be bitter.’

OH: ‘Oh, right.’


OH: ‘Have I ever had cocoa?’

Me: ‘What? Yes!’

OH: ‘Have I?’

Me: ‘Yes! I used to make it quite regularly at one time. You have to make it with milk. You don’t remember that?’

OH (in an interested tone): ‘No, I don’t… did you?’

Me: ‘Yes!’


OH: ‘But you have to drink 800ml a day. That’s a lot of cocoa. Almost a litre!’

Me: ‘It is. Although you could make it stronger, and drink less.’

OH: ‘Can you make it stronger?’

Me: ‘Of course you can. You just put more cocoa in it. So, not drinking chocolate, then. You’d have to drink even more of that. It’s so sugary you couldn’t possibly make it strong enough.’

OH: ‘Do you have to make it with milk?’

Me: ‘I think so. I suppose that’s why people use the instant hot chocolate. It’s easier.’


Me: ‘We’d better start drinking cocoa again.’

OH: ‘I’ve had cocoa?’

Me (eyeing him dubiously) ‘We’d definitely better start drinking cocoa again!’

OH: ‘Why do we need to start drinking cocoa?’

I looked at him over my glasses. He was pretty deadpan but there was a suspicious twitch around the corners of his mouth.

Me: ‘OK. I’m going to see if I can make it in the microwave.’

And so I did, but it turns out much better if you do it the traditional way with a milk pan. I also set about improving it slightly. Making it more like the rather wonderful Italian hot chocolate we’ve had when we’ve been in Italy2.

What I do now, is this: I heat the milk in a pan. While it’s heating, I melt a couple of squares of solid, 100% cocoa in little pot in the microwave, and mix a heaped teaspoon of cornflour, a couple of teaspoons of Green & Blacks organic cocoa and a little cold milk in a cup. When the solid cocoa is melted, I stir it into the pan, then slowly add the cornflour/cocoa/milk mixture and whisk it till it’s smooth.

It takes a little bit of care or you’ll end up with lumpy cocoa, which while still tasty3 is less than perfect as a hot drink.

Trouble is, we keep forgetting to make the cocoa.


1 The laptop, not the chair. Don’t be silly
2 We also found it in that rather lovely little Italian bar ‘Milano’ in Stamford, Lincs.

3 You can, after all, eat the lumps, and the memory-improving qualities of the cocoa will be unimpaired.

10 thoughts on “The Cocoa Imperative

  1. Kathy G 8th February 2015 / 4:32 pm

    I’ve been adding a little cocoa powder (along with a little sweetener) to my afternoon cup of coffee. Sometimes I also put in some dry milk powder. Don’t know if it’s improving my memory, but it sure TASTES good.

    • Jay 8th February 2015 / 6:12 pm

      Aah, yessss! A little chocolate does wonders for coffee, doesn’t it?

  2. Susie Sanddune 8th February 2015 / 10:29 pm

    Cocoa in the coffee sounds like a good idea.
    Vanilla in coffee is also good.

    • Jay 8th February 2015 / 11:40 pm

      You’re right on that, too, Susie – I sometimes buy vanilla flavoured coffee.

  3. Valerie Daggatt 9th February 2015 / 9:36 am

    An enjoyable read, Jay, also an educational one. I didn’t even know you could still get cocoa! However, as a young girl I used to drink a lot of it so perhaps that’s why my memory is still reasonable.

    • Jay 9th February 2015 / 11:59 pm

      Thanks, Valerie – I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Yes, cocoa is still easily available here, though many people have now switched to the horribly sweet instant hot chocolate drinks that are also easily available. The real thing is just so much nicer.

  4. Rob Lenihan 10th February 2015 / 1:11 am

    Cocoa improves memory?!? Thanks for the tip, Jay. I’ve been scaring myself lately with my inability to recall names, movie titles, etc. Maybe I should load up on the stuff and start memorizing the dictionary!

    Now what were we talking about…?

  5. liz 10th February 2015 / 9:30 am

    The problem is that I don’t like dark chocolate or cocoa. But give me a few years and I may have forgotten that and I can try again.

    Younger Son and Nuora say that the hot chocolate from Verdi’s is almost as good as that from Italy but I don’t like hot chocolate either!

    We have conversations like that. And Husband is always sharing ‘an article from the BBC website’ with me. Sometimes I listen.

  6. nick 10th February 2015 / 11:00 pm

    I haven’t had cocoa for years and years. No need for it, I’m sure, my memory is absolutely fine. Oh, did someone mention cocoa?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *