For someone that loves chocolate as much as I do (a lot!), the fact that hot chocolate leaves me quite indifferent is a little surprising. Every time I’m at a café with friends and one of them orders hot chocolate, I’m always shocked- of all the coffee and tea varieties available, why would you choose hot chocolate instead?
But hold on- why all the hate? The devoted chocolate lover in me decided to investigate. And I think I’ve come up with the answer: most hot chocolates available are bland- to say the least. The way I see them (and taste them, cause I’ve been testing, like any good chocolate detective should), the majority are just concoctions of cocoa powder, milk and sugar, mixed together to a watery, light brown hot cup of something I find neither visually or taste-wise appealing.
Still, it’s chocolate you guys! It’s supposed to look, smell and taste amazing, right? It turns out, it actually can. A while ago, while I went for my usual double macchiato, my friend opted for hot chocolate. Here we go, I thought. And then it arrived: pure bliss in a cup, a ginormous cup. Chocolate, actual chocolate, melted with cinnamon and other spices and served with a perfect dollop of silky smooth whipped cream, sprinkles on top. That’s the stuff, I thought, that’s what dreams are made of.
I bombarder the waiter with questions about the chocolate, but the only thing I managed to get out of him was that there was also milk and cream in there. Fair enough, I can work with that. And I did.
Lots dark chocolate, roughly chopped- that’s our main ingredient, that’s how the magic happens. Milk too, to help with the slight bitterness and cream as well, to make our drink as delicious and rich as possible. We’re fine just like so, but this can get even better: a few good drops of Cointreau and a pinch of cloves, to make our beverage burst with orange flavour and spicy aroma. And for the final blow: lots of whipped cream. Yes! I added a good pinch of sea salt in mine, just to cut through the sweetness, and it was heaven. Rich and delicious, fragrant and comforting- just like a good chocolate dish should be. So, next time I’m at a café, I’ll order coffee. But next time I’ll be craving chocolate like a mad woman, instead of a cupcake, I may just go for this. Whom am I kidding- I’ll definitely go for this.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup double cream
220 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons cointreau
1/2 teaspoon crushed cloves
to serve: whipped cream, cocoa powder and/ or dark chocolate sprinkles
Combine the milk and cream, over medium heat until just bubbly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until melted. Stir in the cointreau and cloves.
Serve warm with lots whipped cream and cocoa powder.
P.S. Feel free to experiment with other combinations too: cinnamon and/or ginger, lime zest and a hint of chilli (remember these brownies?) or a couple drops of vanilla extract.