It's not Christmas yet, not even Thanksgiving...but heck, it's never too early to enjoy a homemade cup of hot chocolate. The fact that it's actually cold enough to wear a chunky knit scarf coupled with a pitch black sky kicking in as of 6PM is a totally legitimate excuse to indulge in what might be the most comforting drink in the world!
Now I, personally, typically enjoy my hot chocolate with either a pinch of cinnamon or coffee. But with the holiday season just around the corner, what would be more fitting then a luscious chocolate beverage laced with cool, sweet swirls of peppermint?
With the flavor addition figured out, the real question however is how does one typically make hot chocolate?
Milk and chocolate powder? (no!) With an instant mix? (double no!) "Diluted" with water? (triple no!) Well there sure are many methods out there- but to me, the most gratifying quasi-opulent recipe is one made from great, good quality ingredients and a few more minutes of patience. Years ago, while interning in the kitchens of a re-known Parisian five star luxury hotel, I discovered that to make a perfect hot chocolate you need:
Milk, half/half, 60% chocolate, unsweetened cocoa. Sugar is optional.
For this holiday variation, I've added a chocolate coated peppermint marshmallow.
In a pot, heat the milk and cream together. Make sure it doesn't boil and overflow though (which is typical when heating milk!). Then add the chocolate and cocoa. Lower the heat and stir until all has melted.
Now, the fun part! Place the chocolate coated peppermint marshmallow at the bottom of a mug.
Then, start pouring the hot chocolate on top...
Go on, just like that baby!
Now, if you don't mind creamy whisker stains on your lips then by all means, top off with whipped cream!
And make it even more merry with sprinkles, candied shaped stars, chocolate shavings...
And now, for the magic. Forget using a spoon- slip in a peppermint candy cane instead.
The reason why I say "magic" is because with each swirl...
...comes a whiff of chocolate-peppermint escaping from the mug and deliciously floating around one's nose
It will put you in a trance...you'll make sure you clean your mug spotless clean!
Recipe for A Very Merry Hot Chocolate
The principle behind this recipe is:
Use a ratio of 3/4 milk and 1/4 half-half
For a total volume of 1 cup liquid, use 30gr chocolate (60%) and 1/2 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa.
Chocolate coated peppermint marshmallows
Peppermint candy canes
Heat the milk and half-half in a pot and at first boil, lower heat. Add the chocolate and cocoa, stir well until all is mixed. Place marshmallow on the bottom of each mugh. Pour over hot chocolate, top off with whipped cream and stir with a peppermint candy cane.
There is no sugar added in this recipe as the marshmallow and candy cane will make up for that. And if you use sweetened whipped cream, then the sugar should be kept to a minimal as to not make this beverage a sickingly sweet one.
And of course, you can also make a basic version omitting the marshmallow and candy cane.