Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Recipe - Basic, real hot chocolate

This first recipe is just going to be the basics, so you can experience a true hot chocolate and really taste the difference between this and a packet cocoa. This is an easy, delicious, real hot chocolate.

When making a basic hot chocolate, there are only a couple of things to consider: water or milk, and what kind of chocolate?

A lot of hot chocolates are made with water, not milk. This allows for a very strong chocolate flavor to come through. Milk, while adding creaminess, dilutes the flavor a bit. Both are awesome! We’re going to go with water for this first one.

As for chocolate, there are tons of options. I like to use a semisweet or bittersweet chocolate with around 60%-70% chocolate liquor content. Most good chocolates you see in the grocery store, especially in the baking section, now have a percentage on the label. If you use a chocolate over 70%, you may want to add in some sugar.

For this one, I’m using Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet baking chocolate. Use whatever you can find, but for this first one, try to stay away from milk chocolate. In future recipes, I’ll use many different chocolate brands, and most times, you’ll be able to substitute your favorite brand, or whatever you have on hand.

Ok, here’s what you’ll need (it doesn't get any easier than this!):

1 cup water
4 oz chopped semisweet chocolate

Chopping chocolate is easy. Get a big knife, a cutting board, and have at it. Start from a corner, and keep rotating the chocolate so you can work your way in from the corners. It chops easy this way, and you’ll see what I mean once you get started. The more finely chopped it is, the faster it will melt and incorporate into the water. Watch your fingers, though, especially your thumb! I cut mine. Learn from my fail.

Bring the water to just about a boil, turn the heat off, and pour the chocolate right in. A whisk tends to work a little better than a wooden spoon for mixing it, so whisk it around a bit. While you whisk, you may want to move the pot off the warm burner. Chocolate burns very easily, and while the chances of that here are slim, it could still happen. Burnt chocolate is bad.

At this point, some people will let it steep for 5-10 mins, then reheat it right before drinking it. The idea is that it lets more of the chocolate flavor extract into the liquid, and generally results in a smoother drink. I’m not sure that’s necessary using water instead of milk, so we’ll skip it for now. (And besides, it’s mixed - let’s get to drinking!)

Once it’s completely melted and smooth, pour it carefully into your favorite mug and garnish with homemade whipped cream or homemade marshmallows. (Both of which I’ll post recipes for very soon. The marshmallows are awesome!!!)

Oh man, so good! And so easy! It’s SUPER rich and strong, and at first it may surprise you. But if you love chocolate like I do, it’s like a magical world just opened up to you. So much better than a packet mix! What do you think? Too strong or bitter for you? Try adding a teaspoon (or more) of sugar, or next time, try lowering the amount of chocolate.

Variations on this recipe are endless. What kind of chocolate can you find? Whatever it is, you can melt it in water!

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