Saturday, November 8, 2008

Some Like it Hot

I have many goals in my life. I have a few aspirations, too. But I only have one mission: to discover the perfect cup of hot chocolate. I guess it all started on a 2007 trip to Paris. My mother told me, "You absolutely MUST go to Angelina. They have the world's best hot chocolate." And somewhere between the Louvre and Arc de Triomphe, I went. And it was very good. But not good enough to leave me satisfied with the notion that I will never again consume a better cup of hot chocolate. It was so thick, it was almost like drinking pure chocolate syrup. I prefer something more drinkable, something that makes me reach for more instead of reaching for my water glass. A chocolate beverage with subtle-but-surprising flavors and aromas to tease my senses. When the ancient Aztecs roasted their treasured cocoa beans to make a chocolate drink, they would spice it with chili peppers and wine. Of course the beverage has evolved over time into the sugary treat it is today, but I think those Aztecs probably knew a thing or two about their cocoa.

Whenever I've had a really rough day, or I'm just really cold, a cup of hot chocolate usually does the trick. Inspired by several recipes, I came up with my own that is particularly comforting. The title is a nod to a recipe for "The Duke's Hot Chocolate" featured in the book, The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper - a recipe that was enjoyed by the Bentivolglio Dukes of Bologna and features hints of vanilla, orange, and allspice.

Mine is enjoyed by me, and sometimes I just want to pretend that I'm a lady of the high court.

Recipe for Duchess Hot Chocolate:

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of good salt
  • 3 dashes of nutmeg
  • 3 dashes of cinnamon
  • 1 dash of ground cloves
  • zest of a small orange (enough for only about 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 tsp Grand Mariner

In a small saucepan over low heat, slowly heat the milk and vanilla extract, whisking occasionally. Combine the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, and whisk briskly into the warm milk. When combined, add the zest and whisk in the Grand Mariner. Test temperature, and serve when it has reached desired warmth.

Allow yourself enough time, post-consumption, to pass out on the couch. I'll never give up my global search for the perfect cup, but at least I found something satisfying that is as close as my kitchen.


bette said...

Dear V- I went to Angelina's again in October and I have to admit it was not the best. I would MUCH RATHER be sipping Duchess Hot Cocolate on your couch!

Veronica said...

But if nothing else, it's an amazing experience! Next time we see eachother, it's a date.

bette said...


Anne said...

What I really like about the Angelina hot chocolate is that it is made from melted chocolate, not cocoa powder. I think the flavor is richer and deeper. So I make a ganache (equal parts of heavy cream and bittersweet chocolate) and then thin it with whole milk to a drinkable consistency. Rum or grand marnier is a good flavor addition.