Recipes for hot chocolate ...
CREAMY HOT CHOCOLATE
Prep time: 6 minutes. Cook time: 8 minutes. Serves: 2.
Tested with the Spanish chocolate Valor Chocolate a la Taza (available at the Web site www.tienda.com), this fast and easy recipe yielded a pretty cup of hot chocolate whose caressing texture lived up to its name. The recipe is from Gourmet magazine.
1/3 cup well-chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
2 cups whole milk
In a bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream with sugar until it just holds stiff peaks.
Chop chocolate and reserve 2 teaspoons. In a small saucepan, heat milk with remaining chocolate over moderate heat, stirring, until it just comes to a simmer.
Pour hot chocolate into 2 large mugs and top with whipped cream and reserved chocolate.
MOODY'S HOT CHOCOLATE
Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 15 minutes. Serves: 6.
Kathy Cooney, pastry chef at Moody's Bistro & Lounge in Truckee, Calif., created this unusually thick and intense version of hot chocolate. "It isn't served by the mugful, but more like an espresso with a spoonful of freshly whipped cream," she recommends. At the restaurant, she uses the Venezuelan chocolate El Rey Gran Saman (available at the Web site www.amazon.com). "It is slightly more acidic and flowery than some domestic chocolates," she says. "It is a dessert by itself or with a fresh churro," she says of the hot chocolate it yields. People who prefer a thinner cup of hot chocolate can thin it with more water and then reheat it.
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon almond liqueur
Bring milk and 1/2 cup water to simmer in saucepan. Turn off heat.
Meanwhile, combine cinnamon stick, sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat allow sugar to caramelize as you swirl the pan. As it reaches a deep amber color, remove from heat and slowly whisk in milk-water mixture. Return to low heat and gently stir till it is smooth. Whisk in melted chocolate. Heat till edges start to bubble. Remove from heat. Take out cinnamon stick. Add the almond liqueur. Whip hot chocolate with immersion blender for a minute. Serve immediately.
NEW MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE
Cook time: 10 minutes. Makes about 8 2/3-cup servings.
Cinnamon and nutmeg spice up the flavor. The recipe is from Cooking Light magazine.
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups reduced-fat milk (2 percent)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk and vanilla extract, stirring constantly with a whisk. Heat to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around edge, stirring with a whisk (do not boil).
VIANNE'S SPICED HOT CHOCOLATE
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: 10 minutes. Serves: 2.
Flavors of chili pepper, cinnamon and vanilla come through lightly in this hot chocolate from "My French Kitchen" (Morrow, $24.95) by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde. Harris is the author of several popular novels, including "Chocolat."
1-2/3 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 hot red chili pepper, halved and seeded
3-1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably 70 percent
Brown sugar to taste (optional)
Whipped cream, chocolate curls, cognac or amaretto, to serve
Place the milk in a saucepan, add the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and chili, and gently bring it to a shivering simmer for 1 minute. Grate the chocolate and whisk it in until it melts. If you must, then add brown sugar, but do try to go without it. Take off the heat and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes, then remove the vanilla, cinnamon and chili. Return to the heat and bring gently back to a simmer. Serve in mugs topped with whipped cream, chocolate curls, or a dash of cognac or amaretto.
RICH HOT CHOCOLATE
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 5 minutes. Serves: 6 to 8.
Berkeley, Calif., chocolate doyenne Alice Medrich includes this recipe in her newest book, "Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales From a Life in Chocolate" (Artisan, $35). It yields a hot chocolate exceptionally rich and representative of the quality of the chocolate used. It won't be for everyone, just people who want a melted bittersweet chocolate bar for breakfast.
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 cups boiling water
1-1/2 cups milk
Place the chocolate in a small saucepan. Pour about half of the boiling water over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the rest of the boiling water and the milk. Heat over medium heat, whisking continuously, until hot but nowhere near boiling (the texture and flavor are both best if the hot chocolate never exceeds 180 degrees). Serve immediately, or set aside and reheat just before serving.
Mocha hot chocolate: Make this hot-chocolate mocha using only 3/4 cup water and adding 3/4 cup espresso or strong coffee with the milk.
Ancho chili hot chocolate: Dried ancho chilies are also called pasillas. They are deep chocolate red and heady with an earthy musk. After seeing the film "Chocolat," recalls Medrich, she and a friend returned directly home for hot chocolate. "From drawers and cupboards, little jars of dried ground chilies were unearthed from past bouts of Indian and Mexican cooking. Between sips of chocolate, we began to inhale from each jar. The anchos beckoned, and we stirred pinches into our cups _ just enough to feel the heat. Try it," she writes.
Spiced hot chocolate: Following the sniffing ritual described above for ancho chili hot chocolate, experiment with other spices, such as anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, Chinese five-spice, ground vanilla beans, pieces of dried citrus peel or grated fresh citrus zest.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com.)