I have a rather medieval habit of waking up in the dead of night, getting out of bed and roaming the rooms of our home. It isn’t exactly Rebecca floating across the bay windows of Manderley, but you get the idea. The habit of sleeping all the night through to wake in the morning is a relatively new one. From the early Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution, people would go to bed just after sundown, sleep for a good 4 to 6 hours , wake for an hour or two to say Matins, ruminate or just have sex and then get another 2 to 3 hours of sleep before having to herd the sheep, or paint the chapel, or whatever it is the Medievals did.
There is a calmness to the dead of night and the first weak light of the sun that follows it that I enjoy tremendously. The worries of the day before seem smaller as the dawn brings hope in things renewed. And then there is cocoa. I’m not talking of the bagged sweetened powders ready to be poured into a steaming glass of milk or (God forbid) water, but of the properly assembled mix of roasted cacao powder, sugar and milk. Forget those Godiva tins, those Fortnum sachets and buy yourself some very basic Van Houten cocoa powder. It should be the same thing you put into cakes, bitter, witout a trace of sugar or filler, just plain fine powder.
I’ll give you my recipe, but this is really just the way I like to drink my cocoa. You may find you like it sweeter, or maybe you want it aphrodisiacally bitter, or with a little cinnamon added. Whatever rocks your bed, embrace it. And do yourself a favour! Do not at any time! Ever! Make your cocoa with water. The result is an insipid, limpid swamp not worth feeding to a pauper.
The early light cocoa, the one consumed just before dawn, sends me back to sleep most efficiently. In fact, my mug is empty now and my eyes will hardly stay open, so I will bid you goodnight.