Hot Chocolate Week Prep Work
I figured that before I went and reviewed a stack of hot chocolate mixes I should first establish a standard for comparison. My belief is that most things are better homemade so I figured I would make a quick and simple hot chocolate myself and use it for my benchmark. This is the recipe I used for a basic hot chocolate and a little fresh whipped cream to top it off with.
2 oz high quality dark chocolate finely chopped
8 oz heavy whipping cream
6 oz whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Cinnamon, other miscellaneous spices
Liqueur of choice
Note: Fresh and high quality ingredients make all the difference in the world. Skimping on the ingredients will yield an inferior result. I used cream fresh from the store, quality Mexican vanilla, and El Rey Bucare for my chocolate.
Put the beaters from your electric mixer in a mixing bowl and throw them in the freezer while you gather your ingredients.
Put the milk and 2 oz of the cream in a non-stick pot over LOW heat. We want it to get hot but not boil.
Put the remaining 6 oz of cream, the confectioners’ sugar, and ½ teaspoon of the vanilla in the now super-cold mixing bowl and attack with the electric mixer. When it’s almost stiff taste to verify you have it sweet enough for your tastes and, if necessary, add more confectioners’ sugar. Then finish whipping until it holds peaks.
By now your milk will hopefully be starting to steam a little. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon of vanilla and any spices (like cinnamon) that you like or a little bit of liqueur (or both ^^). Whisk the chocolate in bit by bit until it’s all melted and smooth. Feel free to whisk it up to as much of a froth as it will hold (or you can use one of those hot chocolate frothing sticks after you get it in your mug). Put it in a mug and put a dollop of whipped cream on top. Drink it!
It’s not the finest hot chocolate you’re ever going to taste and should really be made with a vanilla bean in the milk, but it is good and pretty easy and not overly sweet. The thing it has going against it is that it requires time – it takes a good 10 minutes to make it and I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually have heavy cream around the apartment (though you can get by without it) and most people won’t have high quality bulk chocolate laying around. That’s why we have hot chocolate mixes in the first place. In theory they don’t take as much time and usually don’t call for more than a little milk or water.
So the way I’m going to be approaching the hot chocolate mixes I’ll be trying this week is to see how they stack up to my simple homemade hot chocolate in terms of both quality and convenience. Some of these I expect to be much lower quality (especially the hot cocoas in the selection) and some I expect to be very high quality, but nearly as much work and time as homemade.
Tomorrow: Hot Chocolate Week begins! Woo!