Fear Conquered: Homemade Hot Cocoa
"It's going to drop below zero tonight," Boyfriend Javelin says, brushing the snow off his arms and shaking the snow off the hood of his coat. "Negative twenty, or something like that."
I'm busy flipping grilled cheese sandwiches and tearing up spinach for a salad. "Is that real temperature or wind chill?" I ask. As if I'm a meteorologist with a forecast to defend.
He stamps his feet to knock the snow from his shoes, then slides them off and gingerly side-steps the already melting snow on the doormat. He shrugs. "I think it's the real temperature," he says. "It's gonna be like this a couple days." He suddenly notices the grilled cheese and his face lights up. "You're making grilled cheese?"
"Yep," I say, feeling a wee bit happy he noticed. His favorite meal and I haven't made it in about a year - despite lots of subtly dropped hints and hopeful suggestions along the way. "And..." I say, dramatically, gesturing to the little coffee pot on the stove.
He frowns for a moment, then smiles. "Hot chocolate?" he asks. "Awwww..."
Before this story ends up on the Hallmark Channel, I should point out how ridiculously easy homemade hot cocoa is to make. Chop up some chocolate, dump it in hot milk, froth it all together and serve. Yes, it's a tiny bit more work than ripping open a packet of Swiss Miss - but barely. And it takes about 10 minutes to make - instead of two. But it's worth it. Especially on those bitter cold nights with snow drifted up over the windows and blankets piled four layers deep.
Two hours later, the pot's empty and the only sound is wind driving powdery snow against the side of the apartment. As I peer out through the blinds, I can smell the cold off the window panes. "It's so beautiful," I say.
"Don't get any ideas," Boyfriend Javelin says, snugging deeper under the pile of blankets. "I'm not going out in this."
"What if I made another pot of hot chocolate?" I ask, turning to grin at him.
He smiles and shakes his head. "Maybe," he says.
|Measure 1 3/4 cups whole milk.|
|Add 2 cups of skim milk.|
|Combine the milks in a large microwave-safe measure of bowl.|
|Heat the milk in the microwave on HIGH power for 3 minutes until hot, but not boiling.|
|You will need 3.5 ounces dark chocolate (I recommend 60% cocoa).|
|Chop the dark chocolate.|
|Add the chopped chocolate to the hot milk.|
|Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted into the milk.|
|Add 2 teaspoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder.|
|Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.|
|Add 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules.|
|Add 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon.|
|Add 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar.|
|Using an immersion blender, froth all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Reheat the hot cocoa if necessary in a warm 200F oven.|
|Transfer the hot cocoa to a warmed serving container.|
|Serve immediately with optional whipped cream, marshmallows and a sprinklings of cocoa powder.|
Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 5 min
Ingredients (4 cups)
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1 3/4 cups whole milk
- 3.5 ounces dark chocolate (60% cocoa), chopped
- 2 teaspoons natural unsweetened cocoa power
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons homemade whipped cream, (optional)
- Miniature marshmallows (optional)
- Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)
- In a large microwave-safe measure or bowl, combine the milks; heat the milks in the microwave on HIGH power for 3-4 minutes until hot but not boiling
- Whisk the chopped dark chocolate, cocoa powder, vanilla, instant coffee, cinnamon and sugar into the hot milk
- Froth the chocolate/milk mixture with an immersion blender (or transfer the mixture to a heat-safe blender and blend until frothy)
- Reheat the hot cocoa if necessary in a 200℉ oven; serve immediately with marshmallows, whipped cream or a dusting of cocoa powder if desired
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Hungry for Tips?
- Don't boil the milk: The flavor of milk changes when it reaches the boiling point and the proteins begin to break down. Once the milk is hot to your fingers, it's ready for the chocolate. Heating the milk beyond this point is a waste of time.
- Don't burn the chocolate: If you need to reheat the hot cocoa after you've melted the chocolate into milk, be very careful not to overheat the mixture or you will burn the chocolate. To avoid this, I recommend keeping the hot cocoa in a warm 200℉ oven until you're ready to serve, then transfer the hot cocoa to a warm coffee pot or thermos.
- Always froth: Frothing the hot cocoa ensures the chocolate, milk, instant coffee, cinnamon and vanilla are fully and evenly combined. It also helps to reduce the possibility of settle-out particles or sludge at the bottom. The easiest method for frothing is an immersion blender, but you can also use a blender.