Oh no. One beloved, delicious ingredient has not been featured in this blog. This grievous error must be corrected, but how? After thinking of my options I realized there could only be one — the beverage that first started chocolates’ journey from South America to Europe and onto an approximate $50 billion dollar world-wide industry (an odd bit of information: South America is credited as the source of chocolate, but according to my internet searching Africa is the top producer) and the beverage that unfailingly helps keep me warm throughout Winter…drum rooolllllll… Hot Chocolate!
Prior to Christmas my hot chocolate supply was terrifyingly low. Rationing would have to be implemented. Then, while pouring a bag of semi-sweet chips into chocolate chip walnut brownie batter realization struck. Ding! Now, my favorite hot chocolate mention comes from The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. I salivate every time I read the line: “We drank hot cocoa as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars.” Just maybe melting chocolate in a pot of milk is the path to accomplishment. So simple.
With Christmas my hot chocolate supply was thankfully replenished and accompanied by The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. My brilliant pre-Christmas idea was affirmed with Lebovitz’s chapter: Hot Chocolate to Die For. His recipe calls for a pinch of salt which I plan on trying at some point, but also gives a ratio of 5 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate to 2 cups milk. No where near chocolatey enough for me.
However, Lebovitz also mentions that the Château de Versailles web site includes a recipe. Following a little web searching, a few moments of poorly remembered college French and the discovery of the translate button I was reading about early French hot chocolate. Here the 1755 recipe by Menon says to use “the same quantity of chocolate bars and glasses of water”. Equal amounts? Ok, more like it. And, then the next sentence says to “place one egg yolk for four servings”. Truly, I wanted to try this recipe, but the image of hot and sour soup wouldn’t leave my head.
I went simple, dropped the egg and was quite pleased with the result.
Amounts: to taste. When I did attempt to make it true Polar Express fashion with equal amounts-ish a shot glass or espresso cup full was plenty. If you’re not sure, add a few chips at a time and taste frequently. The batch pictured is approximately a 2:1 milk:chocolate ratio. The brand of chocolate being used might also affect the amount. Hot chocolate is great plain, but I love simmering the milk with a cinnamon stick or a pinch of dried Adobo pepper – in Chocolat fashion.
How to make: measure out desired amount of milk. Pour into appropriate sized saucepan, heat over medium to medium-high heat. Add semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips. Whisk until melted. Pour and sip.