Friday, July 15, 2016

Hot Chocolate at Home

Don't worry, I will be continuing with chocolate reviews: I have a couple of suspects already in waiting. But it's something different for today: namely, a recipe.

I'm not usually one to make up and give out recipes. I follow recipes that other people make or I just put together dishes that don't need recipes (like salmon with salt and pepper and rosemary). I don't really experiment in the kitchen. But is that a good thing?

You see, I had been remembering how I had sometimes (just a couple of times) made hot chocolate just by mixing together cocoa powder and sugar. That's what the better mixes are made out of, anyway; everything else is just fillers (unless there are added flavors, like mint or rose, etc). So I decided to try it again--and I want to share my results.

Use about 3/4 cup of whatever type of milk you drink. Heat it up in a saucepan. Stirring, sweeten with one teaspoon of sugar or honey--I don't notice much difference in flavor with the honey, so give that a try because honey's better, anyway. Two teaspoons of cocoa powder will give you a pretty standard proportion of chocolate, but I've started only using one teaspoon because I'm trying to make the cocoa powder last longer. And also because I've started adding a good sprinkling of cinnamon in, too, because cinnamon is healthy and it tastes nice. Now I've ended up with a nice, spiced, lightly sweet mixture for a quiet evening.

You get the gist of it? Start with the milk, sugar, and cocoa powder and don't stop there. Do you like thicker chocolate? Add three teaspoons instead of just two. Do you love rose? Add some rose water. Try a bit of cream instead of marshmallows. Shave some chocolate into the warming milk. Whatever it is, don't feel like there is only one way to do it.

And don't feel like hot chocolate has to come from a packet or a box or a bag or a tin. Mixing it yourself is simple and gives you better control of ingredients. You can use whatever cocoa powder you like--and if you avoid Hershey's and Nestle, you'll end up with much better quality hot chocolate than what all the standard mixes offer. I've been using a tin from Guittard (from World Market) because I really wanted to buy it since Guittard usually makes good products--but some of the recipes I use don't want Dutch process cocoa powder (which this is); so I can still use it in hot chocolate.

Come to think of it, mixing up some batches and putting it in pretty jars with ribbons and such would make nice presents for birthdays and Christmas. Lots of possibilities.

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