Long before it began asking, “Got Milk?” the Dairy Association used to tout milk as “Mother Nature’s most nearly perfect food.” The slogan always made sense to me, especially those days when after I got home from school my mother would fix me a tall glass of chocolate milk. Without the chocolate, milk was only nearly perfect. With it, it could not be improved.
I was moved recently to think back on those memories and wonder, is chocolate milk really be just for kids?
Chocolate made just for drinking has a noble heritage. In fact, chocolate was being enjoyed as a beverage for centuries before anybody ever thought of actually eating it. It can be traced back to the Ancient Mayans of Central America who believed the beans used to make the drink were an offering of the gods. (Makes sense to me.)
Still, their drink was not quite chocolate milk. The credit for that is often given to Sir Hans Sloane who supposedly came up with the idea while visiting, of all places, Jamaica in the late 17th century.
An Irish physician, Sloane observed while in the Caribbean how malnourished babies could often be rejuvenated with a potion made up of cocoa, spices, and water. He himself, however, did not find it very tasty. So he came up with the idea of adding milk.
For more than a hundred years, Sloane’s concoction was thought of as chiefly medicinal. But before long all kinds of powdered mixes were on the market for making the drink, none more famous, perhaps, than Nestle’s Quik, the kind my mother probably used, but because it contains as much sugar as chocolate it has tended to give chocolate milk a bad name.
Yet there are signs that chocolate milk may be making a comeback. Some manufacturers are actually putting out gourmet versions of chocolate milk—for adults. As always, however, the version you make yourself with premium ingredients will be the most udderly satisfying.
Grown Up Chocolate Milk
This recipe will make a far better glass of chocolate milk than anything you might whip up with a pre-packaged powdered mix, so it’s really worth the extra bit of trouble. Use a high quality brand of chocolate such as Guittard, Bissinger’s, or Scharffen Berger, each an all-American product that’s perfect for an all-American drink like chocolate milk.
6 ounces dark, bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 cups whole milk
½ cup crème de cacao
Combine chocolate and one cup milk and stir over low heat until combined. Place remaining two cups milk in a blender, add the chocolate mixture, and blend until fully incorporated. Stir in crème de cacao. Chill well before serving.