Since living in France and savoring the richness of “real” hot chocolate, I’ve found it a challenge to imbibe hot cocoa from a packet. Instead, I’ve taken to making it from scratch, and as an occasional indulgence it is well worth the effort. Without being overly rich or sweet, this version has the potent flavor of bittersweet chocolate, infused with the subtle perfumes of cardamom and cinnamon. The finish leaves a beautiful flavor memory on the palate.
2 cups milk
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate (we used Valrhona Caraibe)
1 cinnamon stick, crushed
4 cardamom pods, crushed
3 tablespoons sugar, to taste
Whipped cream (optional)
Cocoa powder for dusting (optional)
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and place over low flame. Whisk occasionally to incorporate the melting chocolate. Do not bring to a boil, or the milk will form a skin. When first bubbles begin to appear around the edge of the pan, remove from heat and strain into two warmed cups.
If a frothier hot chocolate is desired, whisk vigorously before straining.
[Chef’s Note: When crushing cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, or any hard spices like peppercorns, I simply put them in a plastic baggie and give them a good smash with a cast iron frying pan. Once should do it if you have a good arm. If you’re having a bad day, go to town.]
Top cocoa with whipped cream and dust with cocoa powder (optional).
Recipe by Jennifer Iannolo
Photo by Kelly Cline
This recipe was originally published in March 2005. An oldie but a goodie!