Friday, January 30, 2009

My Quest for the Perfect Hot Chocolate

I love hot chocolate. I used to adore Carnation mix (with a shot of peppermint schnapps), but for some inexplicable reason, this particular brand has been phased out. This winter, I am embarking on a mission. I am going to find the perfect hot chocolate recipe. If you have never attempted an internet search for hot chocolate recipes, count yourself lucky. There are millions of them. I believe every person in the United States and Canada has posted two, maybe more recipes that "mom used to make."

I have in my head what I am looking for. It can't be too sweet. Nor too chocolately (Is that a word??). I want something creamy. Something I can drink all day long, but not have to spend a lot of time making. I don't want to have to drag out the sugar, cocoa, etc, etc. The mix should go in a jar where I can scoop it out and add milk or water. I would prefer a mix that can be added to water, but that is not a requirement. Actually, that is probably not an option since I don't really like powdered milk, but I am open to suggestion.

Something to make on a snow day.

Something to wind down with before bedtime.

So, my first attempt (from sounds exactly like what I want....

Creamy Hot Cocoa
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn't scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.

As I am cooking this up, I realize this recipe is almost exactly the same as my chocolate pudding recipe, without the cornstarch.

I rarely have half and half on hand, so I bought some specifically for this recipe. I also tried making the cocoa by substituting regular milk for the half and half.

Verdict: This recipe is VERY rich. Really good, but not really what I was looking for. It was a bit too chocolately for me. Too sweet, too rich. DD drank about four sips and then just ate her marshmallows. I think this would be a good treat every once in awhile, but not for every night.

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