Do you recall your first truly spectacular cup of hot chocolate? Not the kind that comes out of a packet but the first cup you ever had that was so thick and luxurious you almost had to eat it with a spoon? Well, I remember mine. It was on my first trip to Europe with my parents and we were in Germany where Daddy had to do some business. We stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast which served a typical European breakfast, i.e. croissants served with jam and butter and all the water, coffee, juice or hot chocolate you can drink. Mama was always a chocolate addict…she didn’t care if it was a 25¢ candy bar from the corner gas station or a sumptuous, elegantly ribboned box of bonbons straight out of a fashionable Parisian confection shop. It was all great to her and she loved every bit of it. Mama and I went down to breakfast, Daddy was already off with his people, and sat outside at a pretty little table on a patio surrounded by a riot of Old Garden Roses, all in bloom, sharing their heady perfume to our surprised pleasure. Being on holiday we ordered a pot of coffee and one of hot chocolate with plans to enjoy several cups of each. I only remember the chocolate which came out hot, steam pouring out of the spout. Mama poured then we settled in to plan our day. At first sips our eyes met and widened with astonishment. This was not like any hot chocolate we had ever had before, dense and smooth with none of the watery, chalkiness the powdered stuff always imparts.
Layer after layer of mysterious but most pleasing flavors went on and on overwhelming our senses. This hot chocolate was silky and velvety yet earthy. And, get this, it came with a side of freshly whipped cream. Oh, man! After that there was no stopping us. We ordered hot chocolate at every breakfast, in every country we visited and not once were we disappointed. Back in the States I promptly forgot about our newly found breakfast drink and it has remained in the deep, dark recesses of my forgetful mind. Probably safer that way. It’s not exactly slimming. For me, this is a once-a-year extravagant indulgence. This hot chocolate is a dream of creamy, chocolate joy. It’s like The Moldau symphony in a cup. Evocative and enigmatic, it will transport you. I wish you a magnificent journey!
Dark and rich, this drink is worth every calorie. It’s very easy to prepare but because there are so few ingredients you really should try to use the best chocolate available to you. I have been able to locate only one whole powdered milk at the grocery store. I don’t want non-fat powdered as it takes away from the full-flavor you’re working towards. On the boxed milk aisle you’ll find a yellow labeled tin of powdered whole fat milk called “Nido” by Nestle Corporation. Dark chocolate is a must but be adventurous an experiment with different kinds. You get what you pay for so if this hot chocolate is made with cheap chocolate chips, well, that’s just what your drink will taste of…chemicals, fillers and artificial “things”. Trader Joe’s has a super 1 pound block of 72% cacao dark chocolate that is not only loaded with flavor but super inexpensive. I believe it’s $5.00. The bar is huge and you’ll get quite a bit of baking out of it. A small whisk is needed to ensure all the lumps are taken out. If you don’t have a whisk, grab two or three forks, place them back to back, wrap a rubber band tightly around the handles and whisk away. It can also be gently reheated the following day by placing in the microwave on the defrost level and warmed in 2 minute increments, stirring between each increment.
Thickest, Richest Hot Chocolate
- 1/2 cup whole-fat powdered milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
- 2 cups whole milk
- 8 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- In a small bowl, whisk together powdered milk, sugar, cornstarch and espresso powder. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed pot bring the milk to almost to a boil, whisking often.
- Add the dark chocolate a little at a time, continually whisking.
- When the chocolate is almost completely melted, take off the heat and whisk in the powdered milk mixture.
- Continue whisking to desired thickness.
- Serve immediately.
- Cover any remaining hot chocolate with plastic wrap and refrigerate.