Regular readers will know that I love decadent versions of healthful, fermented drinks. I made quite a few delightfully decadent drinks for my water kefir class last week, which was a blessing and a curse. I had to cancel the class at the last minute, which left me with 10 water kefir kits, partially assembled, a gallon of water kefir grains, and 3 gallons of water kefir of various flavors. There were plenty of well-tested recipes, but also a few things I threw in, just for fun. This is the “just for fun” recipe that turned out way better than expected. It is now on the repeat request list (I’m 10 batches in two weeks after I first made it) and I have a feeling I”ll be making a batch at least weekly until death does part my husband and I.
It’s easy to make, too. I was initially concerned that the addition of alcohol (in the form of vanilla extract) might make the oh-so-desirable water kefir fizz fizzle out. As it turns out, not at all. This little bit of vanilla didn’t seem to change a whole lot other than making the flavor rich and creamy, like a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows.
Speaking of creamy, ever wonder where the “cream” in “cream soda” comes from? It’s vanilla! From my past working with some serious vanilla folks, I know firsthand that there are many, many variations in vanilla flavor, some creamier than others. If you’re making your own vanilla extract, I recommend a blend of beans from Madagascar and Uganda for uniquely wonderful flavors. My preferred version of this is made with vanilla extract I made with rum, but any vanilla extract, including store-bought, will do just fine.
New to Water Kefir? Check out the basics of water kefir here first.
Chocolate Cream Water Kefir Recipe
Yield: 3 cups
The water kefir for this recipe should be fully fermented and the grains removed before you start. More than one study shows that all of the sucrose in water kefir has been converted at 24 hours of fermentation, so a longer fermentation period will mostly be about flavor and fizz. I never recommend fermenting with the grains in for longer than 48 hours, since water kefir grains are a little finicky when it comes to acid. They could well make an environment that’s too acidic for their own survival.
- 1/3 cup cocoa nibs*
- 3 cups finished water kefir, see headnote
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Place cocoa nibs and water kefir in a clean quart jar. Stir in vanilla extract. The cocoa nibs may float for a while, but eventually they’ll sink so don’t worry too much about mixing them in; they won’t be exposed to the air for long. Cover the jar with a lid. Place the lid on top and screw it on, but not all the way. You want the CO2 created during fermentation to be able to escape.**
- Allow your jar to sit at room temperature for 24 hours. At that point, your chocolate cream kefir is ready to drink and you have a few options. You can tighten the lid and move it to the fridge, as is, for storage, or strain off the liquid and bottle it in a sealing (plastic, recycled, soda) bottle to let it further carbonate in the fridge. Or, you can strain off the liquid and fridge or drink it and use the cocoa nibs to flavor another batch of water kefir, albeit with a more subtle flavor.
*Feel free to go up to 1/2 cup if you’ve got the nibs for it. It will be closer to a fizzy cup of cocoa that way, which is how I prefer it, but my husband likes it better as a chocolatey soft drink at 1/3 cup of nibs.
**Sometimes I seal it all the way. If the CO2 builds up too much in a mason jar with a two-piece lid, the lid will deform to allow the CO2 to escape, which isn’t the end of the world. If you’re using a once piece lid or anything glass that seals, allow room for the CO2 to escape or you’ll be setting yourself up for a potentially dangerous explosion with glass for shrapnel.