|be the perfect host/ess||.||
Contrary to popular American opinion, true, honest-to-goodness hot chocolate does not come out of a single-serving size paper packet. That beverage you've probably thought of as hot chocolate your whole life thus far? It's a pale, watery imitation of the real thing -- fine when you need a quick and sugary hot beverage fix, but highly unlikely to sate the true chocoholics among us. No, for a close-your-eyes-and-savor-slowly experience, there's no substitute for making hot chocolate the proper way, with good dark chocolate and milk. Decadently rich, soothingly hot, and packing a wallop of to-die-for pure chocolate flavor, real hot chocolate makes a perfect treat, whether you're hosting a girls' night in on a snowy winter night, or getting romantic with the sweets on Valentine's Day.
1.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
yields: one steaming mugful of chocolaty goodness
up your chocolate.
frothy hot chocolate | Use whole milk. Zizz the hot chocolate in a blender (a hand blender's dandy if you have one) for a minute or two, until it's good and frothy. Serve.
minty hot chocolate | Leave out the vanilla extract. Instead, add a splash of peppermint extract to the milk as you heat it up (go easy on the extract -- mint extract is pretty potent, so this might be easier to make in a larger batch).
spicy hot chocolate | My six-year stint living in the southwest left me with an interesting culinary quirk: there's very little in the world that I don't think tastes better with at least a hint of chile. Seriously, hot chocolate with a lil' chile pepper for zip is a marvelous, marvelous thing. Stir in a dash of cayenne into the chocolate and milk mixture. Yum.
Mexican hot chocolate | If you're lucky enough to live in an area where Mexican groceries are readily available, you can actually get pre-spiced Mexican chocolate (Ibarra is one common brand). For the rest of us, we just have to approximate the real thing with the addition of some cinnamon. You can add a ½ cinnamon stick to the milk while you heat it up, and discard the cinnamon stick before serving. Alternatively, add ¼ tsp. of cinnamon when you stir in the chocolate. This variation is also mighty tasty with a little bit of cayenne pepper added to the mix.
spiked hot chocolate | Add an oz. of any of the following liqueurs to the chocolate and milk mixture for an added layer of flavor and a festive alcoholic kick: Grand Marnier (orange), Cointreau (orange), Amaretto (almond), Bailey's Irish Cream, Kahlua (coffee), Frangelico (hazelnut).