Rich, creamy, smooth…
Dark velvet slipping down your throat.
Sweet cocoa wafting under your nose.
A cup of comfort, of warmth,
A Holiday Recipe
When the holidays come to town, there is no better beverage than a cup of hot cocoa to savor the season. Warm, delectable chocolate brushing by your lips and rolling down your tongue. It is the ultimate Christmas drink and an absolute must to celebrate the holidays! So let’s get started. Time to create a truly exquisite cup of hot chocolate.
2 cups almond milk (or regular milk if you consume dairy)
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
a dash of cinnamon
Pull out a saucepan (small pot), and get your ingredients ready.
First, let’s prep the chocolate. I personally like to use dark chocolate bars that are at least 72% cocoa. Don’t go too high, however, a dark chocolate bar with 90% cocoa or more will have less cocoa butter and lack the rich, creamy texture and taste that makes hot chocolate so delicious. I find Lindt Excellence, Camino, Zazubean, and Laura Secord bars all melt perfectly and blend very well when making hot chocolate.
With a cutting board and a knife, finely chop the dark chocolate and leave it in a glass measuring cup or glass bowl. If you do not have a glass bowl, then place the chocolate in another small microwave-safe dish. We will need to melt the chocolate before it goes into the milk, so microwave safe is essential. For now, however, simply leave the bowl of chocolate to the side.
Now, place the saucepan on the stove and pour in the milk and vanilla extract. Set the heat to low and stir slowly as it simmers. Keep both of your eyes on the milk as it heats up. You do not want the milk to boil or burn. Large bubbles in the center of the pot are a bad indicator; they mean the milk is getting far too hot. Tiny bubbles forming around the rim of the saucepan are all you want to see.
Preparing the Chocolate
Once the milk has heated and transitioned from warm to hot, you can prepare the chocolate. Place your bowl of chopped chocolate in the microwave and heat for 20 seconds. Melting chocolate in the microwave can be delicate… heat it for too long, and the chocolate will burn into a dark crumbly, grainy mess. So, instead of placing the chocolate in for a lengthy period of time, we are melting it down in two intervals.
After the 20 seconds are up, remove your chocolate and stir it; the heat should have begun to melt it slightly. Place the chocolate back in the microwave and heat again for 20 seconds. When the time is up, remove and stir. You want the bowl of chocolate to be completely melted into a rich dark liquid. If there are still chopped pieces, then place the bowl back in for another 20 seconds and stir until the consistency is correct.
Once your chocolate is melted, pour it all into the saucepan of milk. Stir as you pour, and continue to stir and blend the chocolate into the hot milk. You want to mix the ingredients until the color of the milk is fully tainted by the chocolate (a creamy brown liquid, just like chocolate milk).
Continue to stir on low heat, and add a touch of cinnamon. The sweet aroma of vanilla, chocolate, and cinnamon simmering together is entirely euphoric. Your kitchen will smell like a holiday dream!
The Final Touches
Taste as you work, and when the beverage is to your liking, pour it in cups to serve. Enjoy it with a mountain of marshmallows, or my favorite way, with a pile of coconut whipped cream. Cheers!