Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Brown Sugar and Sea Salt Hot Chocolate
It is incredible to me how many people miss out on creating the truly luscious-style hot chocolate that one can make with real chocolate bars. Once you've had a taste of it, Swiss Miss or even dissolving cocoa powder just won't cut it anymore. I've added a few optional flavor enhancers (brown sugar, coffee, salt) to make it special, and once you've got the method, you can improvise and create all kinds of delicious flavors (peppermint? white chocolate? whatever suits your fancy!).
Ingredients (for 4 cups)
- 3 cups milk (I use skim, and whatever you have regularly is fine)
- 1 cup cream
- 4 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 4 oz. milk chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp granulate sugar
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp instant coffee or instant espresso
- 1/2 tsp salt (kosher or sea salt with larger granules is best)
To start, put the milk and cream on a medium-low flame and bring almost to a boil. Stir occasionally to prevent scalding and the formation of a film. The cream makes this drink extra smooth, but you can just use 4 cups of milk if you prefer. Given the amount of chocolate that goes in, the drink comes out quite thick anyway.
Speaking of chocolate: this is the most crucial aspect of the drink. Pick your very favorite chocolate rather than any old baker's chocolate. Godiva and Ghirardelli are good brands that make both dark and milk chocolate. I myself, prefer Lindt to everything, so I use that.
For the dark chocolate, I use 85% cacao, but you could use 90-100% too if you like that strong flavor. For the milk chocolate, brands like Cadbury's (the UK version) are also great, but I don't really like regular old Hershey's compared to the others that I've mentioned. Once your milk and cream are simmering, turn the heat down to low, and slowly whisk in your chopped chocolate.
Continuously whisk until the chocolate is fully melted and incorporated to prevent burning. Now, add the sugars and salt. You can use all white sugar, but I think that the molasses component of the dark brown sugar really enhances the chocolate taste. It, along with the espresso and salt, provides a balance to the richness of the chocolate, making this drink much more than a cloyingly sweet one-note beverage. After the sugars are dissolved, add the espresso and vanilla and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and serve the way you like it. Me? No matter how many things around the world that I taste, I still like mini marshmallows on top of my hot chocolate!