They say the first step to dealing with a problem is admitting you have one. I have a problem. I’ll admit it. I am a hot chocolate snob. I feel better already!
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Chocolat (amazingly beautiful movie and the book is just as good), but an eccentric gypsy woman/chocolatier serves ridiculously thick hot chocolate to her patrons. Ever since seeing the scene when the chocolate, almost lava like, pours out of a steaming pot into a snow white cup, I’ve been a hot chocolate snob.
There is a point to this story, I promise. Earlier this week, Paul and I wandered into a cool little shop in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone called Birddog Mercantile. It’s super cute, check it out! Anyway, at the register they had copies of a Mexican hot chocolate recipe from one of the co-owners, Cat Cora. It sounded delicious and right up my snobbish alley, so Paul suggested I make it this morning rather than baking something.
Gotta say… success!!! It’s sinfully delicious! It’s extremely easy except one step: grating the chocolate. Now Cat Cora probably has a lovely sous chef who happily grates the chocolate for her, but unfortunately my sous chef left to get coffee and a breakfast burrito.
For some reason I hate grating things. Maybe I’ve scraped too many fingers and knuckles, but I alone had to face this challenge (took me forever by the way). However, after the excruciating task of grating chocolate (I’m so dramatic) everything else was simple as pie.
There are a few notes that I would remember for next time:
~ Serve in small cups (not mugs, the serving size in my picture is even too much for me).
~ This is perfect to serve with a very light breakfast (like a croissant or small piece of frittata) or as an alternative to serving a dessert.
~ The recipe calls for vanilla bean ice cream. I bought the slow churned, 1/2 the fat version so it wouldn’t be quite so decadent.
~ The recipe also suggests making Spicy Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream. I didn’t do this thinking that it would just be too much. Instead I made whipped cream (home-made whipped cream is the only way to go) using only whipping cream and good vanilla. I didn’t add sugar because the hot chocolate is already so sweet. Unsweetened whipped cream is a really nice balance to a sweet treat.
~ The Spicy Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream recipe accidentally left off how much cayenne pepper to use. Not knowing how much to add, I would do so very sparingly and taste test as I go.
~ Next time I try this, I want to play with adding chili or cayenne pepper, something to give it a kick.
Cat’s Favortie Creamy Mexican Hot Chocolate (care of Cat Cora)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, 4 cups milk, 2 cups vanilla bean ice cream, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups water (add 1/2 cup more water for a thinner cup of hot chocolate), 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3 teaspoons pure vanilla (use Mexican vanilla, if you have it)
Grate the chocolate with a fine-edged grater. In a large saucepan, heat the milk, ice cream, and sugar on low. Just as the mixture begins to steam (don’t let it boil), whisk in the grated chocolate. Whisk in the cinnamon, vanilla, and water. Heat the mixture until steaming. Serve with Spicy Dulce de Leche whipped cream.
Spicy Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream (care of Cat Cora)
1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional), 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate crushed
In a large bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in the brown sugar until cream becomes light and fluffy (if you don’t have access to fresh, very soft brown sugar, just use regular white sugar to keep the cream from becoming grainy). Mix in the cinnamon and cayenne. Pipe on top of hot cocoa. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes (optional) and crushed chocolate to garnish.