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Handmade Christmas: Goat’s Milk Instant Hot Chocolate

Now all the Christmas presents have been opened I can share what I made for my family this year. The last few years I’ve made a variety of goat’s milk soaps and bath milk. This year I wanted to do something different but still use goat’s milk. After a bit of research I decided to make my own instant hot chocolate mix using dried goat’s milk.

I spent a day perfecting recipes ( and drinking a lot of hot chocolate) finally settling on four flavours Cinnamon and Nutmeg, Espresso, Chilli and Salted Caramel. To make up a mug of hot chocolate you just need to add hot water to two spoonfuls of the mix and stir.

Hot chocolate drink mixes are basically cocoa powder, sugar and dried milk with any flavourings you want to add. You can leave out the dried milk if you prefer to make hot chocolate with warmed normal milk.

This is my basic recipe. I ended up using cup measurements rather than doing it by weight because it was easier to make changes to the mix that way when I was experimenting.

Goat’s Milk Instant Hot Chocolate Basic Mix

  • ¼ cup packed soft brown sugar
  • 2 ½ cups dried goat’s milk powder
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup chocolate drops

Makes 412g instant hot chocolate mix

To make the mix you will need a food blender /mixer. Put the chocolate drops in first and blend until the drops are turned into a powder. Add all the other ingredients and blend some more. Put your mix into sterilised jars.

You can add any ingredients you want to that basic mix and play around with quantities to create your own perfect variations. Here are the variations I made.

Goat’s Milk Instant Hot Chocolate with Chilli 

Basic Recipe plus 2 dehydrated jalapeño chillies.

Add the chillies to the blender after the chocolate drops or powder them with a pestle and mortar before adding. I used homegrown chillies that I dried in my dehydrator. Personally I could have tolerated more chillies but I have a very high tolerance for chillies and I know not everyone does so I went for a milder flavour.

Espresso

1/2 cup espresso powder added to basic mix

I used Percol Black & Beyond Espresso coffee which I found on Amazon. The Espresso powder can just be added with the other ingredients when blending.

Cinnamon & Nutmeg

1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Add to the basic mix

This is my favourite mix. It’s very Christmassy.

Salted Caramel

1 tablespoons  good sea salt  added to the basic mix

21/2 cups of granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract to make caramel which is added to the mix.

For this recipe you will need to make the caramel, let it cool and then smash it up before putting it into the blender piece by piece so it can be powdered before adding the rest of the ingredients.

This is how you make the caramel

  1.  Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Heat the granulated sugar in a large heavy pan, over medium heat, without stirring. When the sugar begins to melt, swirl it to melt without burning. the sugar will eventually melt to a deep amber color. 
    Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vanilla. Whisk the caramel until smooth again.
  3. Pour the caramel onto the lined baking tray. Allow it to spread without touching it. Set aside and let the caramel harden, at least 1 hour.

I bought my dried goat’s milk from Goat Nutrition Ltd you could use any dried milk it doesn’t have to be goat’s milk.

To package my hot chocolate I used wide mouthed jam jars and gift boxes for jam jars. Here’s a picture

And I made some extra for us to enjoy at Hooters Hall.

Cheese Ageing and Leaf Wrapping

My education in cheesemaking has been continuing as you will have seen if you follow any of the Hooters Hall social media. I’ve been experimenting with aged Chèvre. Five weeks ago I made some Chèvre using shop bought milk. I let the curds ferment in the whey for 4 days and then ladled them into small cheese forms to drain before surface salting. I found handling the curds while they were still so wet very challenging and couldn’t avoid one complete collapse but I persevered. I let the cheese drain and then dry and cure for several days at room temperature. I’ve bought a set of roasting trays which have a wire rack over a metal tray making them perfect for no fuss cheese draining.

After curing I put my little, slightly misshapen cheeses into my cheese cave which is a small wine fridge that I bought for the prupose. I’ve have several oak chopping boards to use as shelving and a hygrometer to monitor relative humidity. I keep a small ramekin on water in there to help maintain the humidity and the fridge has an external temperature control and display.

We had the first taste of these cheeses after 2 weeks of ageing. The cheese was very acidic with a hint of citrus and proper goat cheese clagginess. I then let the remaining cheeses age for a further 3 weeks and we tried some more this weekend. The flavour had changed significantly over the 3 weeks. The acidic, citrus taste had completely gone and was replaced by a strong, complex goat cheese flavour. The texture was quite dense and smooth. Overall I was very pleased and I’m looking forward to seeing how the flavour develops over a full 60 days of ageing.

This cheese is pictured on the left in the photo below.

Aged Chèvre cheeses

The cheese on the right in the photo is another aged Chèvre this time made from raw milk. For this cheese I let the curds ferment for 2 days. I pre drained the curd using my normal cheesecloth in a colander method because I’d found dealing with the draining curd in the cheese forms too fiddly. I salted all of the curd together and then put it in the cheese forms. The pre draining meant there wasn’t any need for further draining but I removed from the cheese forms after 24 hours and let the cheese cure at room temperature for a few days before transferring to the cheese cave.

We had our first taste of this cheese after 3 weeks of ageing. It wasn’t as strong as the first cheese but had an enjoyable clagginess and creamy flavour. It was drier and more crumbly in texture probably because of the pre draining. I am leaving some of this cheese to age for a full 60 days but I have decided to experiment with leaf wrapping four of the cheeses.

Wrapping cheeses in leaves has been practised as long as cheeses have been made with cheesemakers making use of local vegetation. As a keen gardener as well as cheesemaker this is an area of cheesemaking I’m really interested in. Leaves can be used dry but you can also macerate leaves in alcohol before wrapping. Essentailly this means leaving them to soak in alcohol for a week or two. I decided to use leaves from the smallholding. I picked some vine leaves and fig leaves from the polytunnel, sage leaves from my herb garden and some nettle leaves from our small woodland. I soaked the vine, fig and nettle leaves in homemade Elderflower champagne and the sage leaves in an organic cider.

Here’s a picture of the leaves soaking and the cheeses pre wrapping

Leaf wrapping cheeses

The hope is that the combination of leaves and alcohol will have a positive effect on the flavour of the cheese. The leaves also protect the cheese, creating it’s own little micro climate.

Wrapping the cheeses wasn’t too hard. I used several leaves for each cheese and simply overlapped the leaves then secured them with cooking string. I found it easiest to apply the leaves around the middle of the cheese first and secure with string then fold those leaves over at the ends and add more leaves until both ends were covered before securing all the leaves with some more string. Of course the shape of your cheese will affect the ease of wrapping. Here are the finished cheeses.

Leaf wrapped Chèvre cheese

Leaf wrapped Chèvre cheeses

These leaf wrapped cheeses have now been put back in the cheese cave to complete their ageing. I plan to open them after a full 60 days of ageing. It will be interesting to compare with the non leaf wrapped, naked cheese.

Here’s a picture of the cheese cave

Cheese cave

At the front on the left you can see my latest cheese. This is a Chèvre that I made recently and lightly pressed using an antique cheese press that I found in a local antique centre. Here’s a picture

Antique cheese press

I used shop bought, pasteurised goat’s milk, let the curd ferment for 2 days before pre draining, salting and then pressing in a cheese form for 2 days turning the cheese after 24 hours. I’m going to let the cheese age for 4 weeks then try soaking it in red wine before letting it finish ageing. It should be ready on Christmas eve.

This is what it looked like just before going into the cheese cave

Chèvre cheese before ageing

Other cheese plans include experimenting with using herbs to coat the cheese and layering with herbs. I also want to try making different shapes of aged Chèvre because the shape influences the way the cheese ripens. The relationship of surface area to volume being the important factor. Cheeses with a higher surface area to volume ratio ripen more quickly from the exterior than those with a smaller ratio. Larger cheeses with lower surface area compared to volume will ripen more from the interior. Smaller or flatter cheeses, those with square edges, or long cylindrically shaped cheeses tend to ripen from the exterior. There are ash ripened cheeses to explore as well. I’m going to try making m own cheese ask using the prunings from my fruit trees.

Raw milk Chèvre and Paneer Cheesemanking

A double cheese update this week. Now I’ve perfected my Chèvre recipe I decided to buy some raw goat’s milk and see how different it was compared to shop bought pasteurised milk. Hopefully in the future we’ll be getting milk from Diaz and Santiago our golden guernseys so I’ll be using raw milk in all my cheesemaking.

Well there was definitely a difference. My yield was significantly increased when using the raw milk and because the curd formation was better the whey drained quicker which meant the end result wasn’t as wet. I had enough cheese to make a plain Chèvre as well as a basil flavoured one, using homegrown fresh basil and a chilli flavoured on using a homegrown dried basket of fire chilli.

Here’s a picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favourite is the chilli flavour. I like the way the smooth creaminess of the Chèvre is followed by the heat of chilli, it’s a very moreish cheese. Not that the Basil and plain aren’t also delicious. I read an article this week that described Basil as catnip for humans so I’m going to be taking the Basil flavoured Chèvre to a bring and share lunch at my workplace.

Raw milk is expensive compared to shop bought but until we have our own milk I will treat myself whenever I’ve perfected a recipe. I bought my raw milk from Red 23

The second cheese I made this week was Paneer. It’s a vegetarian cheese that does not require rennet. Instead the cheese is formed using a combination of acid and heat. This method of cheesemaking relies on the nature of milk proteins. Casein, the most abundant of milk proteins coagulates with the aid of rennet and is what most other cheeses are made from. The second most common protein in milk is albumin which is what makes paneer. Albumin is also found in egg whites. A liquid at room temperature, albumin becmes solid when heated and will not return to a liquid state.

When cheeses are made at a lower temperature the casein coagulates into cheese but the albumin remains in its liquid form in the whey. This is hwy you can make ricotta from whey. When making paneer the milk is heated to a higher temperature so both the casein and albumin form curds. This means that you have a slightly higher yield.

Because of the nature of paneer you can use it in ways that you can’t use other cheeses. Paneer can be cooked ina  sauce and will hold its shape, absorbing the sauce’s flavour. Paneer can also be cut into cubes and, stuck on a skewer and barbecued. One of my books even suggests making a cheese sandwich using paneer as the “bread” and a rich meltable cheese as the filling then fry the whole sandwich in butter.

Any milk will make Paneer even skimmed. The only milk that won’t is UHT. The other benefit of paneer is that it freezes well. We ate some fresh in a curry and froze a couple of portions.

Heat, acid made cheeses are common around the world not just in India where paneer originates from. In Mexico Queso fresco is essentially the same cheese but with spices such as garlic, chipotle pepper and coriander added.

I’ll be writing up some recipe notes when I get time but here’s the recipe for Paneer. There are variations on this recipe mainly focused on different acids. Traditionally yoghurt is used, much larger quantities are required because yoghurt is only mildly acidic. Lemon juice makes a paneer suited to dessert.

Panner Recipe

Ingredients

4 litres milk

1/2 cup 120ml Apple cider vinegar

1 tabespoon of salt (optional)

 

Method

Bring milk to the boil stirring continuously

cool for 1-2 minutes

pour in vinegar and stir gently

leave curds to settle for 5 minutes

Strain curds in colander

Add spices ans / or salt

Press curds

The paneer is ready when cooled and can be refrigerated for a week or frozen.

You will see in the recipe method that you need to press the curds. You don’t need any expensive kit to do this. Here’s my improvised cheese press using some heavy le creuset ramekins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see I have some cheese forms. You could use a cut off plastic milk container or plastic bottle with holes punched in it for a diy version.

Here’s a picture of the finished paneer.