Ask Jean: Mushroom Hot Chocolate—Really?

Ask Jean

We want to answer your most pressing questions—or, you know, just the things that you’re curious about. Please keep them coming to: [email protected] Below, a q for our beauty director, Jean Godfrey-June.

Dear Jean, I’ve been reading about the health benefits of mushrooms. And I love mushrooms! But to get the benefits of the more exotic/potent ones, do I really have to drink mushroom powder? (It doesn’t sound good.) —Natalie R.

Dear Natalie, I too love a mushroom (and all the ways that they’re supposed to be good for you), and didn’t quite get, at first, how a mushroom might be successfully transformed into hot chocolate.

But hot chocolate often confounds expectations: The famed Angelina in Paris looks from the outside to be a crowded tourist trap—and while it might well be exactly that, the insane deliciousness of their hot chocolate (ultra-rich, high-percentage cacao, plus slightly burnt milk) cannot be denied.

Hot chocolate was also the purportedly healthful morning drink of Marie Antoinette—not sweet, and infused with a different herb each day. I imagine them bringing her a hot chocolate as she soaked in her morning bath—people were horrified that she took baths, and hot chocolate was still relatively unknown and exotic.

While the hot chocolate from the mushroom company Four Sigmatic is not Angelina-level, it is much more delicious than I think anyone would expect, and something along the Marie Antoinette model: not terribly sweet, infused with herbs (adaptogenic ones, in this case). There’s a version with cordyceps mushrooms, and one with reishi—the former aimed at energizing, the latter, at calming—and both are really good. You get the warm, you get the chocolate, and you don’t get A) cloying artificial flavors, or B) full-on mushroom. Instead, you get this sophisticated drink that—unlike most hot chocolate that tastes good—is not seven billion calories.

If you like it chocolate-ier, mix in cacao powder; if you want it creamier, the options are as endless as the number of milks in the world (I am currently super into macadamia nut milk, which to me is richer than the other nut milks); if you want it sweeter…you know. The thing is, I never actually end up doctoring it up. I think I’m going to, and then I taste it and it’s warm and delicious and sophisticated and—hot chocolate.