I grew up drinking hot chocolate made from prepared powder that came in little packets. The baggies had tiny, desiccated marshmallows in them that rehydrated when combined with hot milk. There was usually a portion of the talc that failed to dissolve and accumulated on the bottom of the mug. (Yum!) The drink tasted mildly of bad chocolate, but mostly it tasted like milk.
It first occurred to me that one could make hot chocolate from chocolate when I read The Polar Express, in which children are served hot chocolate “as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars.” That caught my attention. Then, seventeen years later – today – I tried it.
Holy Jesus. It’s amazing how convenience products can so quickly and thoroughly expunge good food from the collective conscience. Real hot chocolate is amazing.
Scratch hot chocolate is usually made with both chocolate and cocoa powder. The chocolate, which should be of the finest quality, is obviously providing flavour, but also a rich mouthfeel. The cocoa reinforces the chocolate flavour, but if you use too much, you can make the drink astringent. Balancing these two incarnations of Theobroma cacao is the key.
Avoid using heavy cream, which blankets and muffles the flavour of the chocolate.
The final piece of advice I can offer is to use an upright blender to blitz the hot chocolate into frothy oblivion. This gives the drink an otherworldly full but light texture on the tongue. The fine foamy consistency is surprisingly stable, easily lasting through the most contemplative of hot chocolate sessions.
adapted from “Haute Chocolate” by Jeffrey Steingarten
- 20 oz whole milk
- 2 oz granulated sugar
- 3.5 oz very good chocolate, chopped into very small pieces
- 1 oz cocoa powder
- Bring milk and sugar to a simmer in a heavy pot.
- Add the chocolate and cocoa and return the pot to a simmer. Whisk until the chocolate has melted.
- Transfer the mix to an upright blender and mix on high speed for a few minutes.