Jul 24, 2009

Nicaraguan Frescos: Cacao

I spent a few months in Nicaragua during the height of their summer. Damn, it was hot!!! And a bit lonely too. One of the highlights of my day was when I would stop at the corner store for a 'fresco, or juice. Well --- juice doesn't begin to describe it. They had everything from cantalope puree juice to raw oatmeal and sugar in water to tamarind juice, ginger milk, or my favorite, cacao. Ohh cacao... I still dream of your sweet calorie-laden goodness.

I looked everywhere online (ok by everywhere I mean in the first two pages of Google results) but couldn't find a good recipe for the drink - not that I'll be making it anytime soon - but the process of making it was somewhat magical. One afternoon my host sister showed me how to make it, and I'll share that process with you.

1. Go to the market, buy some fresh cacao nuts (ie where chocolate comes from).
2. Roast cacao nuts in a frying pan. They will smell like heavenly chocolate --- but are not sweet. At all.
3. Take roasted cacao, about 3 cups of dry rice, and a few whole cinnamon sticks to the mill down the street. It's hosted in a neighbor's shack.
4. Watch the ingredients get all ground up in the mill, along with the addition of some water.
5. Take your slurry home in a bucket.
6. Add a gallon of whole milk and at least two cups of sugar.
7. Refridgerate the bucket.
8. Pour into a plastic bag, tie it off around a straw, and enjoy!

No wonder I gained 15 lbs there despite walking hours a day --- I was drinking whole milk fortified with rice flour and sugar! But OH how delicious.

If I were to make it in my kitchen at home, I would do so in the following proportions:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2-4 T Coco powder (unsweetened)
- 1/2 c Rice flour (necessary ingredient!)
- 3 t cinnamon
- 1/3 c sugar

Place all ingredients in a saucepan, heat it up to dissolve everything, then chill for a few hours and enjoy!

Warning: May cause serious addiction.

Photo is from the same kitchen where I made cacao, but I haven't yet scanned in the photos of that day.

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