I don’t think anyone would argue that hot chocolate is the coziest of cozy drinks. And since this is lil’ blog is called A Cozy Kitchen I think I’ve gone way too long without sharing a proper hot chocolate recipe. And not just any hot chocolate but the fanciest of hot chocolates.
Let’s talk about the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate. Hot cocoa is exactly that – cocoa powder dissolved into milk or (God forbid) water. I have good memories of hot cocoa, actually. When I was a kid, I used to sit in my way-too-long PJ t-shirt and watch cartoons, sipping on Swiss Miss. I also loooved dipping whole wheat bread into my hot cocoa. (I was a weird child.)
But during the holidays, it was always hot chocolate. My mom would tell us stories about how in Peru, on Christmas Eve, right before midnight mass, a big pot of hot chocolate was made. They’d take big blocks of chocolate, melt it and then mix it into warm milk until it dissolved. Real, thick hot chocolate is a game changer.
If it’s cold where you live and you’re feeling some fancy-ass hot chocolate, here’s what you need to do. There’s like two or three steps–this ain’t rocket science.
Step 1: Get your hands on some good chocolate. I had some Scharffenberger chocolate in my pantry. Other brands I love: Tcho, Green & Black or Ghiradelli. I chose a bittersweet (70%) to use in this hot chocolate. I think it adds a nice depth and lends a lot of richness to this hot chocolate, but feel free to go sweeter if you like.
Step 2: Don’t be shy to add some other stuff like a cinnamon stick, 1/4 of a vanilla bean, some Ancho chile powder and salt. I looove steeping the milk with a cinnamon stick and vanilla bean–it smells like heaven.
I lived in Orange County California until I was around 10 years old. My favorite So Cal memory is going to this restaurant called Souplantaion. I remember thinking it was so 80s, even though we were totally in the 90s. The concept is cafeteria-style make-your-own salads. It’s supposed to be healthy but it’s actually the kind of place for a kid to put a bunch of bacon bits and creamy ranch dressing on a pile of bleached lettuce and call it dinner. I loved it. And I especially loved dessert, which was a killer soft serve bar. Tons of sprinkles were poured on top. Tons of crushed Oreos were added when mama wasn’t looking. I was sneaky.
Up until recently I’ve never been a big salad eater. Now–if I’m at a particularly good restaurant–I’ll always order a salad. Always. A good salad is what dreams are made of. (And this is coming from a girl who loves biscuits.) Too often than not salads are treated like an afterthought for vegetarians. They aren’t properly dressed. The lettuce isn’t dried off properly. The leaves aren’t properly seasoned. That stupid ubiquitous kale salad is always on the menu. I can literally go on and on and on about my salad gripes. I will stop. You didn’t come here to listen to me be a brat about salads. Instead, I’ll share with you a fancy-ass caesar salad. I loooove a good caesar salad. They’re so simple, but so amazing when done correctly.
A few weeks ago I made a fancy-ass tuna melt and I loved every second of it. I’m tempted to make this a whole series. The idea would be I take something seemingly normal, typical, usually run-of-the-mill…and then I make it fancy.
I’ve always loved fancy things. I’m just now coming to terms with it and admitting it to myself/everyone. My parents would agree. I was always the kid wanting to order the most expensive thing on the menu. “Wait, why can’t I order the lobster for two?! I don’t like anything off the kids menu! Who wants pasta and cheese and butter?! I love lobster and steak and calamari.”
This BLT is fancy with a capital-F. There are steps in making the easiest sandwich known to man, well, fancy. I have the steps. I have step-by-step pictures, too (sort of). I gotz everything on this bright, sunny Monday!