A freezing cold afternoon plus one trying-to-avoid-too-much-caffeine-mother and a grumpy-from-her-nap-toddler. The only solution? Two cups of warming Spiced Hot Chocolate.
When I was in college, a mug of this – made with lots of Bournville chocolate – plus a croissant was counted as a meal. I got freshly addicted while working at Urru Mallow where we made it with O Conaill’s unsweetened 100% cocoa chocolate, sugar added to taste. When I can get my hands on it, I use Willie’s Cacao chocolate blocks but, when that’s all used up, my fall back ingredient is any bar of dark chocolate, with minimum 70% cocoa solids. Two squares of that, a cup of milk, some heat and a little whisking is all that’s required.
And then there’s the spice: I pick from ginger for warmth, cinnamon for comfort, a grating of fresh nutmeg to soothe and chilli to enliven. It changes depending on the day and the mood. Cardamom gets a look in when I want to dream of someplace exotic, a drop of vanilla if we’re all out of sorts and, at Christmas time, the Green Saffron blend for A Winter’s Ale gave us a hit of spicy citrus. There’s also a tiny pinch of salt in there. You wouldn’t believe how much sweeter it makes the chocolate taste.
Feel free to add a dollop of whipped cream on top if you have it on hand but then this Hot Chocolate might become a very occasional treat instead of a daily necessity.
Spiced Hot Chocolate
This is not a set in stone recipe, by any means, merely the combination that works best for me. Play around and see what works best for you. Little Missy gets a little of this in her own wee cup, without salt, topped up with lots of milk. And one word of warning: soak or wash your saucepan in cold water straightaway. You’ll thank me later.
Dark chocolate, 70% – 25g or 2 squares
Milk – 200mls, approx, or a cupful
A pinch of your spice of choice
A small pinch of sea salt
Put all ingredients into a small saucepan and warm over a medium heat, whisking occasionally. Bring to the boil, allow to bubble for about 1o seconds, and pour into your cup or mug of choice.
Makes 1 cup.