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January 31, 2013 / beatricebunny

Hot Cocoa

I love hot cocoa.  It is the perfect, sweet, satisfying winter eve drink.  I mentioned in my last post that I tried almond milk for the first time ever last weekend, and really liked it.  In addition to using it in brussels sprouts soup, I also used it to make hot cocoa.  I am not, generally speaking, a “five ingredient” cook.  I like layers spice flavors on top of each to make something complicated and fun.  My hot chocolate is no exception.  I don’t really have a recipe, maybe a description closer to an old Joy of Cooking ‘”recipe.”

I usually start with around a cup of milk per person, so this weekend, I started with two cups of almond milk.  If I have it around, I prefer really good dark chocolate or unsweetened chocolate.  If I use unsweetened chocolate, I add sugar to taste.  (Yes, I taste as I go, even making hot cocoa.)

Next comes the tricky part.  One of the secrets to sweetness is salt.  I usually add at least a pinch of salt to my hot cocoa, but a lot of chocolate products are already salted.  I find a pinch is still a good idea, but YMMV.

That’s the base.  You heat the milk on medium heat, watching constantly, stirring often.  Add the chocolate, (sugar), and salt.  I usually add a dash of good vanilla extract and a whole cinnamon stick.  if the chocolate is good and dark, I add cayenne pepper at this point too.

Do not let this mess come to a boil.  Just stir, stir, pick up the kettle off the heat to keep it from boiling.  Turn down the heat.  Once warm and the chocolate is melted, you can stop here – this is damn good hot cocoa.  I seldom do.

Is it a cold night?  Do you want a little boozy-booze to warm it up?  I do.  My favorite are: Whisper Creek Cream Whiskey or Fire Eater.  Fire Eater is a sipping cinnamon infused whiskey.  It’s Fireball for grown-ups.

Want something sweeter?  Change up the top, no cayenne or vanilla.  Think about the cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add a good raspberry liquor or an Irish creme.  Hiram Walker’s Gingerbread Liquor doesn’t go amiss here (keep the cinnamon and nutmeg, of course.)

You can add marshmallows.  Personally, I prefer homemade whipped cream.  My recipe: 2 cups of whipping cream, 3 cups of powdered sugar.  Mix in  the stand mixture.  Stop before you make butter.  Any of the above seasonings can go into the whipped cream (okay, not the cinnamon stick, grate that up).

Grab a big ass mug and a good book.  Indulge.



Leave a Comment
  1. scarletrosita / Jan 31 2013 11:14 am

    I s oagree with you, proper cocoa is yum (also a heritage of jam making -JOY!)

    • beatricebunny / Jan 31 2013 11:06 pm

      I agree! Even my tiny apartment kitchen, I love making real, homemade jam.

      • scarletrosita / Feb 4 2013 7:36 pm

        Nothing like fresh strawberry jam, I used to live in a pavement fronted terraced house when Daughter No1 was little and the front door was permanently open. But when I made the jam the street’s kids would come into the kitchen to eat the stuff warm from the jars with spoons – great times

  2. beatricebunny / Feb 5 2013 1:05 am

    Nice! My mom usually comes to my apartment for one weekend in the summer. We spend it preserving – jams, pickles. My favorite is blackberry and mixed berry. And pickled okra. amazing stuff.

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