During the month of December I watched faithfully those Hallmark Christmas shows which played throughout the day and night.
Their settings were always ski lodges, cabins, and small towns steeped in snow and snowfalls, and without fail, a special feature in each story was that treat of hot chocolate.
Those cups of hot chocolate we enjoy especially during winter months are derived from cocoa beans found on small evergreen trees deep in tropical regions of Central and South America.
Within the large pods cut from the trees are found an average of fifty white cocoa beans which are allowed to ferment and change color for five days and then dried in the sun for a week.
The beans are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate, with benefits of decreased inflammation, improved heart and brain health, blood sugar control, and healthy teeth and skin.
It's when cocoa butter is extracted from the beans and combined with sugar that the result is chocolate; the rest of the bean gives us the cocoa powder used for those hot winter drinks we enjoy.
I remember, as children, our mixing Hersheys cocoa powder with condensed milk and eating it with a spoon for a special treat, and years later, visiting a large chocolate factory in Switzerland from which come so many more sophisticated treats we enjoy.
From such small beans found in rain forests come such large gifts.