I have written about my younger brother, William, several times before. He's an incredible cook. Every time he's home from college we cook together as much as possible. He came up with an incredible hot chocolate recipe last year and has since perfected it. It's more involved than using a packet of hot chocolate mix but worth the extra effort.
See my previous post sharing William's chicken gumbo recipe HERE.
My family usually decorates for the holidays late, putting up a tree the week before Christmas. This year for once, we decorated the weekend after Thanksgiving. We picked up a tree from Inman Middle Christmas Tree Lot and had fun revisiting our favorite ornaments. William made a vat of hot chocolate, and, hopped up on sugar, we proceeded to decorate.
William's Hot Chocolate
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sweetened whipped cream (recipe follows)
Bring 3/4 cup water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk together until no lumps remain. Add the milk and return to a simmer. Whisk in chocolate, sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon, whisking frequently until the mixture is smooth and creamy and the chocolate melted, about 5 minutes. Serve with a dollop of homemade whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon to garnish.
Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place a metal mixing bowl in the fridge until chilled. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk all ingredients on high speed until firm. Don’t over whip. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
William and his friends are doing "no shave November," so I decided to spare you from seeing a current photo. This picture was taken this past summer.
A Note From the Chef: Hot Chocolate! Nothing gets me in a festive mood more than my favorite cold-weather beverage. For most of my life, I drank the pouched pre-made stuff. However, that changed a little over a year ago when I was inspired to use my newly-obtained cooking knowledge to make a much richer hot chocolate. After one sip it instantly became a family favorite.
My recipe is a modification of one from Bon Appetit. Their recipe is a bit simpler than mine, as it leaves out some of the spices. Both the vanilla and cinnamon are optional but I highly recommend that you keep them in.
I've made this recipe many times, and I rarely make it the same way. I've experimented with espresso powder, instant coffee, and other flavors known to enhance chocolate. Some of these worked, others didn't. I messed with the cacao percentage of the baking chocolate and the type of cocoa powder. The result of all this chocolate consumption, apart from potential diabetes, is that I've found that this recipe is remarkably hard to mess up. As long as you don't add in crazy amounts of spices, keep the ratios roughly the same as listed in the recipe, and make sure not to scald the milk as it cooks, you really can't go wrong. Try adding in more cinnamon to make a Mexican hot chocolate. Try using coffee instead of water to make a mocha. Will that work? I have no idea!
Recipes are useful, but a bit of chaos and imperfection is a great way to make a simple, albeit excellent, recipe into something truly your own.
I am admittedly not a big movie fan but I love rewatching the Christmas classics every year. Some of my favorites are White Christmas, Home Alone, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Hot chocolate makes the perfect movie-watching treat. Pop some popcorn (with lots of butter, duh), and snuggle down with some cozy blankets for the perfect winter activity. (In an ideal world it would be gently snowing outside, but alas, I live in Georgia...) I had some leftover fleur de sel caramels that we also enjoyed while watching Elf. (Get the recipe for fleur de sel caramels HERE.)
Thanks for reading! And thank you to William for letting me share his recipe!