Can it be true? A hot chocolate recipe that both tastes amazing and supports your health? We’re delighted to say yes, it can! This delicious beverage combines the wellness-boosting powers of dark chocolate and chaga mushroom for a guilt-free sweet treat. Perfect for snuggling up on the sofa on rainy days and dusky nights! So grab a mug and let’s get into it.
Getting to know chaga
Chaga is a type of medicinal mushroom that natively grows on the bark of trees in the northern hemisphere. Birch trees are its preferred host, although you may also find it on other species like beech and elm. Either way, the fungus particularly thrives in cold climates such as in Finland, Alaska and Canada.(1) Despite boasting impressive nicknames like ‘black gold’ and ‘the diamond of the forest’, chaga is not the most beautiful of mushrooms! It rather resembles a patch of burnt charcoal on the tree trunk, under which lies a softer, orange core. However, the fungus easily makes up for its appearance with the wealth of potential health benefits it has to offer. Practitioners of traditional medicine in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia have been harnessing the power of chaga to boost wellbeing for generations.(2) In fact, even Hippocrates – known as the father of modern medicine – advocated for using it to help wash wounds. What’s fascinating is that scientific research is now finding persuasive evidence to back up the medicinal use of this mushroom. Which, in our opinion, is a wonderful reason to treat yourself to this chaga hot chocolate recipe! So let’s go over the details of chaga’s health benefits before discussing how to make this delicious and wellness-enhancing drink.
The health benefits of chaga mushroom
We have a detailed article on chaga mushroom benefits, but here’s a quick recap of how it can boost wellbeing. Firstly, the fungus may work to support your natural immune defences. One reason for this is that it could help to stimulate white blood cells and the production of cytokines.(3) This in turn enables the body to fight infections more effectively. Moreover, chaga could also assist by reducing inflammation.(4) This is important because experts have linked chronic inflammation to a multitude of harmful conditions, from arthritis to heart disease. This isn’t the only way in which tucking into a chaga hot chocolate recipe could help your heart. The fungus could additionally support cardiovascular health by reducing levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and increasing levels of ‘good’ cholesterol.(5) Similarly, chaga could have a positive effect on blood sugar management. Studies have found that the mushroom may help to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance.(6) This points to its potential use in treating diabetes. As an adaptogen, chaga might also enable the mind and body to handle both emotional and environmental stress more effectively. This is another key benefit because chronic stress contributes to a range of medical conditions, from depression to heart disease. And of course, the relaxing feeling of indulging in a delicious yet simple hot chocolate recipe can only enhance it! Furthermore, chaga is a potent antioxidant. It contains powerful compounds like polysaccharides which help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Studies have linked such oxidative stress to a number of chronic illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and atherosclerosis. It also contributes to ageing, so chaga could even help you to stay more youthful. Now you can see why we think this is the best hot chocolate recipe!
Our deliciously decadent homemade hot chocolate recipe with chaga
Not only is this chaga hot chocolate recipe scrumptious, it’s simple to make. To begin, grab a saucepan and pour in your plant-based milk. We’ve recommended coconut milk for that subtle tropical scent, however you can swap it for other varieties. For instance, oat milk offers a gorgeous creamy texture, while hazelnut and almond bring delicious nutty undertones to the drink. Once you’ve chosen your milk, add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and simmer on a low heat. Try to chop the chocolate quite finely, so that it melts effortlessly. This will reduce the time it takes to make this easy hot chocolate recipe. Let’s turn to seasonings. You might be surprised to see the pinch of sea salt on the list. However, it’s a great way to balance out the sweetness of any recipe for hot chocolate. Likewise, the cloves and black pepper add a fragrant burst of flavor that takes the drink to the next level. We also suggest adding coconut sugar for sweetness. However, feel free to substitute honey or agave nectar in its place if you’d rather avoid sugar. The most unusual ingredient in this hot chocolate recipe is undoubtedly the chaga. Mushrooms are probably way down the list of things you’d think to pop into your cup! However, the flavor combination works amazingly well. The chocolate masks the astringency of the chaga, and the chaga tempers the sweetness of the chocolate. In fact, it’s one of our favorite ways to consume medicinal mushrooms. Once the chocolate has melted and your mixture is rich and creamy, turn off the heat. Allow the flavors to infuse for a couple of minutes, then strain your hot chocolate and pour into serving glasses. Enjoy while it’s still warm!
How dark chocolate benefits your health
Chaga isn’t the only ingredient working to boost your wellbeing in this hot chocolate recipe. It’s time to put the spotlight on some other key players. It sounds too good to be true, but the science supports it: dark chocolate is beneficial for your health. This is because of its high cocoa content. Firstly, dark chocolate can support the health of your heart in several ways. Studies indicate that it relaxes blood vessels, improving the flow of blood and lowering blood pressure.(7) Similarly, it may help to decrease levels of cholesterol and prevent it from oxidizing.(8) All of this works to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Excitingly, dark chocolate might additionally have positive effects on our cognitive functions. One reason for this is the above-mentioned benefits it brings to blood flow, including to the brain. Moreover, dark chocolate contains polyphenols associated with improvements to cognitive processes such as attention and working memory.(9) So this chaga hot chocolate recipe could be just the thing you need when working from home! Dark chocolate is also high in more familiar nutrients, including key minerals like copper, iron, and magnesium. These are crucial for all kinds of purposes, from building healthy red blood cells to regulating nerve functions. Finally, dark chocolate is a fantastic source of antioxidants. This makes it a perfect match for the chaga in our hot chocolate recipe. To enjoy these health benefits, it’s important to choose high-quality dark chocolate. Look out for bars which have little or no added sugar, and a cocoa content of at least 70%. Generally speaking, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the better the chocolate will be for you. Just bear in mind that it will also increase in bitterness as the cocoa levels rise.
A spicy way to boost your wellness
As discussed above, we’ve recommended using black pepper and cloves in our chaga hot chocolate recipe. This isn’t just for flavor – although they do give the drink a wonderfully warming kick! These spices also bring their own health benefits to the beverage. Looking first at cloves, research suggests they could assist with blood sugar regulation and improve insulin resistance.(10) Thanks to an antioxidant they contain called eugenol, cloves may also help to promote liver health.(11) Cloves are additionally high in manganese, a trace mineral that assists the body in building healthy bones and healing wounds. Moreover, cloves have potent antimicrobial properties, meaning they can work to stop the growth of bacteria.(12) Studies have even found that using cloves in mouthwash can improve gum health. Although we don’t recommend using this chaga hot chocolate recipe in that way! Turning to black pepper, this common spice boasts an impressive number of potential health benefits. Many of these are due to its main active compound, piperine. Research shows that piperine has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, helping to protect us from a range of chronic conditions.(13) Just like dark chocolate, piperine may additionally work to enhance our cognitive functions. Animal studies indicate it could improve symptoms of degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.(14) However, further research is required to clarify whether this holds true in humans. In addition, black pepper may be useful in reducing cholesterol levels and thereby improving cardiovascular health.(15) Finally, similar to cloves, studies suggest piperine can improve blood sugar metabolism and insulin sensitivity. All of which means that both spices have definitely earned their place in this chaga hot chocolate recipe!
All about our wild chaga mushroom powder
Of course, it’s the chaga that’s the real star of this hot chocolate recipe. We make our wild chaga mushroom powder using fungus that grows naturally on birch trees in the stunning forests of Finland. Our growers harvest it in small batches, then carefully dry it to avoid any microbial contamination. We then grind the mushrooms into a fine powder and pack it in environmentally friendly amber glass jars. To ensure that our chaga is rich in valuable beta-glucans, we have them tested by an independent, accredited quality-checker. These polysaccharides are responsible for many of the mushroom’s health benefits. We don’t add any starch, fillers, preservatives, or other unwanted extras, so what you get is 100% pure wild chaga. There are plenty of other ways you can use chaga powder in addition to this hot chocolate recipe. For instance, try mixing half a teaspoon into