As I write, the temperature is zero. The sun hasn’t even begun to tint the darkness with shades of deep purple. And my mind immediately turns to my father’s fabulously easy hot chocolate recipe which can be made by the mugful. You'll need nothing more than boiling water, a mug, a spoon for mixing and stirring, and the right ingredients. You will probably need to get the heavy (whipping) cream. You may also need Dutch type cocoa.
This recipe is an inheritance from a man for whom food was a way of life. He grew up in the restaurant business in St. Louis, He gave the same gift to his family he was given - a belief in the joys of herbs and spices, honest ingredients, gas flames, and time to let the fire work its ways. Fortunately, his hot chocolate requires little time, only a kettle on the stove, and less mess than just about any recipe I can think of. It can be made by the mugful as you ready to curl up with a blanket and book, or by the pitcher for a family gathered in the living room for the warmth of a fire in the hearth.
You will need:
Sugar, Dutch style cocoa, heavy cream, salt, boiling water. The optional ingredients are vanilla, booze and other flavorings of choice, (such as peppermint for kids.) You will also need a mug and spoon.
For a mugful, measure and mix in the mug:
1½ Tb sugar
1½ Tb Dutch cocoa
Make sure to mix to fully blend the cocoa and sugar to avoid cocoa lumps. Stir in and blend:
3 Tb heavy cream
Take care to mix well to blend in lumps. It will be thick and soupy. Add:
¼ to ½ tea pure vanilla extract
Stir to blend then
Fill mug with boiling water
Stir from the bottom to fully blend. This is also where you can add a shot of rum or Gran Marnier or whatever suits you. For best results, preheat the mug with some of the boiling water then dry thoroughly before mixing. For a pitcherful, you can warm the pitcher and mugs in a low oven.
I will also recommend using pasteurized rather than ultra-pasteurized cream. The pasteurized has better flavor than the ultra-pasteurized version. It also whips better.
As to something to accompany the hot chocolate, I’m partial to My Hazelnut. But the spices and cocoa baked into Trade Winds is a tough pairing to fault. The richness of the biscotti and cocoa is just what’s needed to take the edge off the chill this winter morning in this new year.
So from my father to you, hot chocolate that’s about as easy as “instant” and so much better. Real ingredients to make a sweet indulgence a body needs on a bitter cold morning.
Let me know how you like Poppa Bob’s hot chocolate. And don’t be afraid to steal the recipe and make it your own family tradition.