One Hot Mama Drinking Chocolate
This is NOT mildly-flavored, American-style hot cocoa, which is typically made with cocoa powder, or sometimes with chocolate syrup. Rather, it is European-style drinking or hot chocolate, which is made with high-quality bar chocolate.
Once you have had hot chocolate made in this way, you won’t settle for anything else. I prefer the lesser amount of chocolate specified below, but if you want an extra-rich drink, use the greater amount.
SERVING NOTE I typically make this entire amount and then refrigerate it until needed, usually retreiving one portion at a time over a few days.
4½ cups whole milk
6-8 ounces, premium, bittersweet bar chocolate (65%-75% cacao), roughly chopped (consider organic, single origin chocolate)
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
1 cardamom pod, shell discarded, seeds crushed
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like the heat) 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (with perhaps a bit more to taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt (don’t even think about leaving this out)
1 cup heavy cream, whipped and lightly sweetened
finely zested orange peel
- In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, bring the milk to just below a simmer.
- Lower the heat to keep the milk below the simmer, and then add the chocolate, orange zest, cardamom, pepper flakes, and brown sugar.
- Stir or whisk until the chocolate is melted.
- Remove from the heat, and add the vanilla and sea salt. Taste, and add a bit more brown sugar if needed.
- Let the flavors meld as long as you can wait (refrigerate if you need to hold longer than an hour), reheat if necessary, strain into a 1-quart pitcher, and then divide equally into six, eight-ounce capacity, Irish coffee mugs. (Each serving will contain six ounces of hot chocolate, leaving you room for a topping of whipped cream, which is a necessary embellishment to my palate. However, if prefer not to add whipped cream, check out the Aerolatte milk frother, which will give you a frothy head without any additional calories; or use the steamer of an espresso machine.)
- Top each serving with a generous mound of whipped cream (for speed, ease, and perfect whipped cream every time, check out the amazing isi cream whip) and freshly zested orange peel. Serve immediately.
Makes six 6-ounce servings.
Is it Drinking Chocolate, Hot Chocolate or Hot Cocoa?
I spent a lively and interesting half hour on the phone with Aubrey Lindley, co-owner of the Cacao DrinkChocolate establishment this past week, trying to get to the heart of the distinction between drinking chocolate, hot chocolate, and hot cocoa. I was set to tell you (after quite a bit of research) that drinking chocolate is made with bar chocolate and liquid (typically water, milk, or cream), whereas hot chocolate is made with unsweetened cocoa powder and milk (with perhaps some cream). But this declaration was going to contradict what I had heard from a couple of the chocolate drink purveyors with whom I had talked. I was prepared to say, well um, that they are all confused.
But Aubrey has worked out the distinctions rather brilliantly I think, and I’m going to go with his thinking on this because it’s clear and it makes sense (adding just a few minor tweaks of my own). This said, you will find that purveyors have their own nomenclature, which may be slightly different from what I suggest below. Here goes:
Drinking Chocolate: High proportion of premium, bittersweet (60%-75% cacao) bar chocolate; hot water, milk, or cream, or some combination thereof; optional spices; served still, rather than steamed or frothed; can be made in bulk in a hot chocolate machine (which holds the melted chocolate in suspension at perfect temperature) or made-to-order; very thick and creamy, almost like melted bar chocolate.
Hot Chocolate: Somewhat lower proportion of premium, bittersweet (60%-75% cacao) bar chocolate; hot water, milk, or cream, or some combination thereof; optional spices; made-to-order; served steamed and/or frothed; slightly to considerably thick and creamy but not as thick as drinking chocolate.
Hot Cocoa: Powdered, unsweetened cocoa with added sugar; optional spices; hot water, milk or cream; typically served frothed and topped with whipped cream or marshmallows; only slightly thicker than the liquid used.
Discovering European-Style Drinking or Hot Chocolate in Portland, Oregon
Owners, Jesse Manis and Aubrey Lindley, are pacesetters on the high-quality chocolate front in Portland. In their shops, they make made-to-order hot chocolate with a variety of world-class chocolate pistols (chocolate buttons), liquid of choice (typically milk or part cream), and just a touch of Dutch-process cocoa powder for added depth of flavor. This drink is steamed and frothed using the steamer of an espresso maker. They also add spices to some of their special offerings.
In addition, they make drinking chocolate, which has the mouth feel of a melted chocolate bar (high viscosity). This drink is kept in perfect suspension and at perfect temperature in a machine made especially for this purpose. It is a still drink, meaning it is not steamed or frothed.
(Many thanks to Aubrey Lindley for his clear explanation of the differences between the three distinctive (and sometimes confused or blurred) chocolate drinks: hot cocoa, hot chocolate, and drinking chocolate.)
Owner, Adam McGovern, sampled a wide variety of top-quality chocolate before deciding on French maker, Michel Cluizel’s Concepcion Single Origin variety. At this excellent coffee house with a university campus vibe, each made-to-order hot chocolate is created with chocolate pistols (one-inch chocolate buttons), steamed with milk, cream, and a pinch of Portuguese salt (using the steamer of an espresso machine). The resulting hot chocolate has a superb flavor (bright, beautifully nuanced, fruity with vanilla and caramel undertones) and is, to my palate, a perfect viscosity for this drink (not too thick).
Owner, Sarah Hart, uses a variety of organic, single origin, premium chocolates in her chocolate drinks, as well as heady spices, such as cardamom and jasmine, and also chiles. At Alma, two chocolate drinks are made: a drinking chocolate (either in a drinking chocolate machine or made-to-order) made with bar chocolate, spices, and milk; and a hot chocolate, made in the same manner but with a greater proportion of milk to chocolate (thus less condensed).
Copyright 2008-2015 Susan S. Bradley. All right reserved.