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Mark Sciscenti Talks About Hot Chocolate


Get Some Hot, Steamy Love in a Mug

By Mark Sciscenti

All alone I sing

To the one who is my Lord:

In this place where

the gods command,

The flower-chocolate drink

is foaming – the flower intoxication.

I yearn, oh yes!

For my heart has tasted it:

It intoxicated my heart

– songs, dreams, yearnings.

My heart has tasted it.

– Tlaltecatzin (late 15th-century

Mixtec poet)


Hot chocolate

Bliss. Euphoria. Antidepressant. Stimulant. And completely legal – it’s chocolate. And that’s not all: One recent medical study in the United Kingdom found that eating chocolate produces brain activity similar to, but more intense than, that created by a passionate kiss.

Chocolate makes us feel good because it either prompts the human brain to pro

duce, or mimics, naturally occurring psychoactive compounds.

Produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree, chocolate is biochemically diverse, containing more than 1,000 compounds that affect the human body and brain, including phenylethylamine, a naturally occurring antidepressant; the stimulants theobromine and theophylline; and anandamide, nicknamed the “bliss” molecule. Serotonin – which induces feelings of calm and helps stabilize moods – and endorphins – natural pain relievers that send high levels of energy and feelings of euphoria to the brain – also are induced and released when chocolate is consumed. These compounds, coupled with the many minerals, vitamins and fats also found in chocolate, create what I call the “synergistic euphoric effect.”

While the medical community does not consider chocolate an aphrodisiac per se, for thousands of years chocolate has been appreciated and consumed ritualistically for its deeply emotional, physically nourishing and invigorating effects. The ancients knew the power of chocolate and how it guides us to communion. Chocolate can send us into a rapturous place if we but reach inside and out to others at the same time.

* * *

As an unknown author, much quoted on the Internet, has said, “Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time.”

Hot chocolate 2

Photo by Ryannan Bryer de Hickman

Many research studies on chocolate and brain/body physiology utilize a drinking chocolate so the wonderful compounds in chocolate can enter the bloodstream and affect the brain within 10 minutes. I have created this special drinking chocolate recipe for its warming and stimulating properties. It tastes almost like a chai masala tea.

Askinosie, El Rey and Scharffen Berger

make a fine non-alkalized cocoa powder. Non-alkalized cocoa powder retains all the phenolic, antioxidant and health-giving compounds in the chocolate – the compounds that give us that chocolate “high.” Alkalized cocoa – the bulk of what can be found on grocery store shelves – has about 80 percent of the compounds removed by the alkalizing process. The ginseng can be found at health food or herb shops.


Makes 1 (8-ounce) drink, serving one or two people

10 ounces (1 ¼ cups) purified water (tap water will leave an unpleasant flavor)

¼ cup fresh ginger root, finely chopped

1 whole cinnamon stick

½ teaspoon whole green cardamom pods, crushed

½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed

½ teaspoon chile pepper (flakes or crushed)

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon whole allspice, crushed

¼ teaspoon whole anise seed, crushed

3 ounces good quality 70 percent dark chocolate,

chopped fine

2 tablespoons non-alkalized unsweetened cocoa powder

4 ounces (½ cup) milk or milk substitute

1 tablespoon Sucanat or light brown sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

8 drops ginseng extract or tincture

Mix all the spices into the water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Strain the spice-infused water and pour it into a clean pot. You should have about ½ to ¾ cup. Add the chopped chocolate to the hot water. Whisk until the chocolate has melted and mixed into the liquid. Add the cocoa powder, milk, sugar, vanilla and ginseng extract to the mixture and blend. Heat until the desired temperature is reached.

Marck Scisenti

Pour into cups and enjoy!

About the Author

Mark Sciscenti of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a chocolate historian and artisan chocolatier who has been actively studying and working with this sacred and healing food since 1999. Mark has recreated historically authentic drinking chocolate recipes from Mesoamerica to modern times and gives educational presentations on the history of chocolate and the medical benefits and myths of chocolate – as well as professional chocolate tastings at museums, anthropological and medical conferences, businesses, schools and special events. For more information about Mark’s work, or to discuss a chocolate presentation for your organization, log onto or send an email to


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