I have already written a very long-winded blog post on this very subject, in which I delve into the whole backstory. I will spare you the details here, and try to cut right to the heart of the matter. And for those of you looking for more conventional cacao recipes, check out this article.
Long story short, during those first years after the founding of the Jama-Coaque Reserve, in which I basically lived like a feral mountain man—climbing up and down the coastal cordillera on a daily basis, often getting lost, trying to build a house in the middle of the woods without really knowing what we were doing, etc.—I stumbled upon a magic potion. It was something I concocted from the limited list of ingredients that were available to us at the time—as in, mostly stuff that was growing in the forest or on nearby farms. This drink was the only thing that could get me through a succession of physically exhausting days.
Hard at work in the Reserve, during the days before we had a house (May 2008).
Initially, the main ingredient was cacao that we harvested from an abandoned, semi-wild cacao grove near the top of the mountain, combined with with our delicious mountain spring water. The next most important ingredient was eggs harvested from our neighbors’ chickens. Bananas and bushes of chili peppers surrounded our house, and then we planted peanuts and sugar cane. Lastly, there was the cinnamon tree. We even tried to cultivate vanilla (which, did you know, is an orchid native to Ecuador?) but that didn’t work out. In any event, all of these things were combined together into a drink that tastes wonderful and performs like rocket fuel.
My personal name for this recipe is “Chocolate Jama-Coaque”, which rhymes when you pronounce it in Spanish (“Cho-koh-la-tay Hama Koh-ah-kay”). It’s very fun to say. Especially when you’re high on theobromine.
- T.cacao Everyday Cacao powder or 100% chocolate (they are chemically the same thing)
- 1 cup of water
- 1 egg
- Chili pepper
Optional Protein Boost
- Nut butter or protein powder. (Protein powder doesn’t grow in our forest preserve, but peanuts and macadamias do.)
Optional Carb Boost*
- Fruit (bananas, berries, or peaches work best)
*Yeah, I know carbs aren’t cool these days, but if you’re heading into a physically strenuous day (i.e, climbing a mountain) and plan on burning a ton of calories, they are very important. On the other hand, if you’re heading into a mentally strenuous day in which you will not be extremely physical active, you can leave out the carbs.
View from the peaks of the Jama-Coaque Reserve. Rugged, yes. And breathtakingly beautiful.
How to Prepare
The recipe below will produce one solid serving if you don't add any extra protein or carbs. If you do add extra protein and/or carbs, it turns into a very hearty serving. So feel free to adjust ingredients and measurements according to your own needs.
- Pour 1 cup of water into a saucepan.
- Before you heat up the water, break an egg into the water and use a fork or whisk to completely stir it in. Be sure to use the yolk, too—don’t be an egg-white person.
- Add 2 big tablespoons of T.cacao powder (or other source of pure cacao) and stir this into the egg and water mixture. It’s important to mix all of these elements before you turn on the heat, otherwise the egg will cook prematurely, which you want to avoid.
- Turn on the heat to medium (if you’re in a rush) or low (if you’re very patient) and stir occasionally.
- Add the optional flavorings and/or extra protein.
- Once it reaches a decent froth, you can turn off the heat and serve.
How to Consume
This recipe will give you a fairly big cup of liquid cacao. One method is simply to drink the whole thing. But I like to add one final step. I pour half of it onto a bowl of banana with granola, in which the cacao liquid serves as a yogurt replacement (refer to this article for details). Then I pour the other half into a mug, which I drink like a thick coffee.
When I start my morning this way, I spend the rest of the day physically and mentally at peak production. There is no mid-day crash, it just keeps rolling. And when it comes time to finally go to bed, I sleep well. This is the recipe that I live by.
Final Notes & Acknowledgements
Don’t be scared of the egg. It adds a nice consistency to the drink, as
well as protein, and it honestly tastes really good when mixed with cacao and the other ingredients. It works.
The foundation of this recipe was taught to me by a couple of elder neighbors in the community of Camarones, a few kilometers down the hill from the Jama-Coaque Reserve in coastal Ecuador. Mixing egg with cacao is something people have been doing in this part of Ecuador for generations.