Baby, it's cold outside! Sometimes we just need a little hot chocolate to warm the cockles of our heart. Real chocolate...not the mixed up, additive-full concoctions sold as hot chocolate. We need pure, dark chocolate combined with whole milk and topped with dreamy, creamy marshmallows that puff up and melt into it's goodness. Or freshly whipped cream that is either lightly sweetened, flavored or with a hint of spice. The higher the quality of chocolate, the better your drink will be. In Paris, Angelina's has hot chocolate so rich it seems like a dessert. I have gotten their packaged Hot Chocolate to make at home and it didn't resemble what they serve at all. It seems hard to translate freshly made hot chocolate into a powdery mixture. Café Le Sélect serves pitchers of warm chocolate and steamed milk to mix together for your own tastes. I like that. In European countries, hot chocolate is a breakfast beverage just like coffee and tea. Now that is civilized! A simple hot chocolate recipe can be used as is or as a base for other flavorings that compliment chocolate. Lindt makes a chili pepper dark chocolate bar that can be substituted for the plain chocolate to give your drink a little kick. Add a cinnamon stick to that for an even more exotic taste. Or you can simply use a candy cane to stir plain hot chocolate. It not only gives a minty flavor, but looks festive as well. Add a little coffee for a mocha pick me up. Homemade marshmallows that are as light as a snowy night, slowly melt into the dark chocolate sweetness. Now that is bliss! My friend Debbie gave me an old family recipe for hot chocolate. It uses whipped cream to make it light and creamy. I love getting recipes that have been passed around family and friends.
Of course, all of the flavorings can be like gilding the lily, but sometimes a twist on the classic makes it even more special.
Basic Hot Chocolate
2 (480ml) cups whole milk
4 (120 grams) ounces dark chocolate* Chopped or grated into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
*for a less dark chocolate flavor, use 3 ounces bittersweet and 1 ounce milk chocolate.
Add the milk, grated chocolate and vanilla into a saucepan, and heat over medium heat while whisking. Do not let it boil. Taste for sweetness and whisk in optional sugar, if desired. For a frothy drink, use a hand held immersion blender to foam.
Makes 2 cups.
~Heat the milk and infuse with 2 slices of fresh ginger and a pinch of allspice. Serve with cinnamon flavored freshly whipped cream.
~Whisk in a pinch each of ground cardamom and cayenne pepper. Serve with whipped cream topped with an orange slice.
~A splash of Kahlua, Amaretto, schnapps or other liqueur adds warmth as well as flavor.
~Stir in 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder and add a splash of Clément Créole Shrubb liqueur. Garnish with a whole star anise.
~Substitute the plain dark chocolate for a flavored chocolate, such as Chili Chocolate or Orange Chocolate.
Angelina's Le Chocolat l'Africain
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
4 ounces Omanhene bittersweet chocolate* (72% cacao), chopped
whipped cream for serving
*may substitute with another high quality chocolate that is at least 70% cacao
In small saucepan, heat the milk, cream and sugar over medium high heat until hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate until well blended and the chocolate is melted.
Serve very warm with a bowl of lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Makes 1 cup.
Debbie's Hot Chocolate
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
hot whole milk
In a medium saucepan, add the chocolate and water and cook while stirring over medium heat, until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and continue cooking for 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla and let cool. In the meantime whip the heavy cream until light and fluffy and then fold into the cooled chocolate mixture. Spoon about 3 tablespoons into a cup and add hot milk to fill. Stir and serve.
Note: The chocolate sauce can be made in advance. Fold the whipped cream in just before adding the hot milk and serving.
Makes 6 servings.