cocoaNot to be confused with sweetened hot cocoa mix, antioxidant-rich pure cocoa comes from roasted cacao nibs; after extracting most of the natural cocoa butter, the resulting “liquor” gets ground again into powder. (A cold-press process removes fats for “raw” cocoa.) “Dutched” cocoa is treated with an alkali to tame cocoa’s natural acids, making it mellower, darker, and more easily dissolved. To choose cocoa, take a good whiff: It should smell naturally sweet and slightly acidic. Store in a cool, dark place (not the fridge). Whisk or sift to break up clumps.

Hot chocolate. Blend or whisk 1/4 cup cocoa, 3 cups hot milk, and your favorite sweetener, plus a dash of vanilla, cayenne, and cinnamon. For an authentic touch, use a molinillo, a traditional Mexican tool spun between your hands to create a frothy drink.

Shake. Make a high-protein, low-calorie snack by blending 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter, a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, and a couple of ice cubes.

Soup. Cocoa’s rich flavor and depth enhance meaty soups and stews; stir a tablespoon or two of unsweetened powder into your black- or mixed-bean soup, chili con carne, or braised beef.

Baking. Dust greased cake or muffin pans with cocoa powder instead of flour for a gluten-free and tasty no-stick assist.