Monday, October 14, 2013

Recipe - Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

It's mid-October, and that makes it officially Fall. This is when the general population begins to really take notice of hot chocolate. So, let's step up the game a bit and make a perfect cup o' cocoa for Halloween and Thanksgiving: some pumpkin spice hot chocolate!

We're using all real ingredients, and we're going to make some amazing, perfect whipped cream again, but this time, instead of whipping it with electric beaters, I've got a new kitchen toy - a refillable whipped cream dispenser. If you don't have one, of course you can always do it with beaters or a whisk. But if you've got a little extra money and you make whipped cream a lot, it's worth it!

Let's make the whipped cream first, so it can chill while we make the hot chocolate.

Let's grab the usual ingredients for some whipped cream:

1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In the photo, you can see the dispenser. You also have to buy little carbon dioxide canisters with it. That's what pressurizes it once you pour the cream into the canister.

First we have to make sure the ingredients are mixed thoroughly before filling the canister, so pour the cream, sugar, and vanilla into a bowl and whisk it together for a few minutes, until it looks like the sugar is mostly dissolved.

Pour it into the dispenser and screw on the lid. Now we have to pressurize it. Be sure to follow the instructions that came with your dispenser carefully. The first time we made a batch here, it didn't pressurize correctly and always came sputtering out every time we tried to use it.

On the dispenser I have, the little CO2 can goes into a plastic holder, and then that holder is screwed into the lid of the dispenser. As you're tightening it, you can hear the carbon dioxide spray into the dispenser.

That's it! Whipped cream is done! Shake it up lightly and give it a test, holding it upside while you spray. I do it over the sink, because usually that first bit is still liquid. After a spray or two, you should have perfect whipped cream!

Put that in the fridge so it stays nice and cool. Next we're going to gather up the ingredients for this amazing pumpkin spice hot chocolate.


1 3/4 cups milk (2% or whole)
2 tbsp dark chocolate
1 tsp powdered sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground vanilla (or vanilla extract)
2 tbsp pumpkin puree

Real pumpkin puree, no fake pumpkin flavor here! And as always, the chocolate you choose will have a huge effect on the flavor. Anything dark (over 60%) should be okay, but when it's close to done, feel free to taste it and add more sugar if you'd like.

I'm using ground vanilla rather than vanilla extract in mine. I like this flavor a little better; it feels a little more pure to me because it's not extracted with alcohol. But vanilla extract works just fine, too, so use what you have.

I'm using a really good chocolate, Varlhona Caraibe 66%. Varlhona makes an amazing variety of chocolates, and many bakers and confectioners use their chocolate in their own candy creations. You can get Varlhona bars at most Trader Joe's, but for the baking portions, look for a restaurant supply store near your house. In Culver City here in Los Angeles, there's a great store called Surfas. That's where I got mine.

It comes in these great little bean sized bits that are perfect for measuring out for baking. However, for easier melting, I prefer to chop up the chocolate even smaller, and that calls for another kitchen toy, my little Oxo Chopper.

This gadget makes chopping almost anything really quick and easy! It's got a whole line of blades, and they rotate a few degrees every time they come down. Really slick! Kind of a pain to clean, though.

You should be heating the milk while chopping the chocolate. Once the milk is just about boiling, go ahead and add in the chocolate, whisking it around so it can start melting. Once it's melted, add in the rest of these amazing ingredients. Take the time to smell it! It's wonderful!

Pour it into a large mug, then carefully spray some of that awesome whipped cream on top. There's probably no better mug of hot chocolate for Fall than this one. Sit back and relax, put on a scary movie or a football game, and enjoy it.