Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Hot Chocolate

So, here in southern MO, it’s rained … let me see … seven of the past nine days, or something like that. Cold, nasty, Novembery weather. Of course we were having a fall drought, as is not unusual, so I was very glad to have the first real rain. But the unpleasant weather got old fast, as it does. I don’t like coffee or tea or soda or fruit juice, but cold, rainy days sometimes make me think of hot chocolate, a temptation to which I’m happy to yield.

I don’t like hot chocolate that you can barely tell contains chocolate, and as far as that goes I’m not crazy about any thin hot chocolate. I prefer hot chocolate with luxurious body to it. The kind of thing that makes you think of trying to stand a spoon up in it, although you can’t actually do it.

As it happens, I have right here a cookbook which is not exactly a cookbook, Simple Cooking by John Thorne, published in … hmm, looks like 1980. It’s a collection of delightful essays about food, the sort of thing where the author considers one recipe and provides half a dozen variants of that recipe. Also a section that is a kitchen diary. I enjoy books like this. I’ve got an older hardcover edition, but I’ve linked the more recent Kindle edition. I would never buy a cookbook as an ebook, but for a cookbook that is primarily essays and has no pictures, maybe I would break that rule, and so might you, so that’s why I linked that version.

Anyway – you can probably see this coming – the very first essay Thorne presents in this book happens to be about hot chocolate. One of the recipes yielded the superior mug of hot chocolate I just finished drinking a few minutes ago. I will now pass that recipe along to you all. It’s probably standard in France, as it’s called French Hot Chocolate. I will provide a recipe suitable for precisely one person. No doubt it multiplies easily.

French Hot Chocolate

1 C milk

1.5 oz decent chocolate (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips)

1 egg yolk

Heat ¼ C of the milk gently with the chocolate until the chocolate is melted. Slowly whisk in the rest of the milk. Beat the egg yolk in a separate bowl. When the hot chocolate is hot and steaming, stir a few tsp into the beaten egg, then pour the egg into the rest of the hot chocolate, whisking briskly to combine and then, if you like, even more briskly until frothy.

There you go. This is, obviously, the same technique one uses to make custards and puddings and lemon curd and whatever else is thickened with egg yolks. Obviously in this case the technique produces delightfully thickened hot chocolate. I doubt I’ll ever make hot chocolate any other way now that I’ve tried this. Thorne declares quite firmly that there is no better breakfast than this kind of hot chocolate with a croissant. I find that easy to believe. The next awful, nasty, rainy, cold day – or pretty snowy day – you get, I suggest you try this kind of hot chocolate and see what you think.

To dispose of the unwanted egg white, well, I suppose an egg white omelet or something would also be a fine addition to breakfast, but personally, I just cooked the white and divided it among the dogs, who were feeling left out – they told me plainly – because they did not get to try the hot chocolate.

For those of you interested in Simple Cooking, I’ll add that Thorne also provides six other recipes for hot chocolate. Other chapters include, let me see, corn cakes, macaroni and cheese, bread and olives, stuffed grape leaves, potato soup, succotash, cheesecake … as you can see, a wide assortment. Also the long kitchen diary section and chapters called things like “In Defense of Picnics” and “Truly Awful Recipes.” This is truly a delightful book, highly recommended if you like books that fall into the intersection between cooking and reading.

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9 Comments Hot Chocolate

  1. Pete Mack

    Ooh, a food-and weather thread! Here in the Northeast, tonight will be the first hard frost of the season, and it’ll be a doozy. Today will be spent picking, washing, and drying the last of the green vegetables left in the garden: kale, bok choy, chard, and amazingly lettuce. Lettuce, only 60 miles from Canada at the end of October!

    But food! Finally an excuse to describe a fictionally-inspired recipe I have made over and over. The desserts in “Sunshine” really stuck in my mind, and I finally tried something: Mushroom Rolls As Big As Your Head. (I don’t actually like cinnamon rolls.)
    Sourdough whole wheat dough, with oil added to make it pliable and rich. Rolled out, and spread with garlic oil and extra-strength mushroom sauce.
    The first time was a qualified success: I went overboard on EVO, and they were out of balance and unnecessarily expensive. I cut that to a reasonable amount, added extra herbs to the sauce, and replaced salt with tamari; cooked dry and too herb-y is just right.

  2. Rachel

    Pete, those rolls sound amazing! I like cinnamon rolls, but I love savory versions too. What herbs? Basil, rosemary, oregano?

  3. Pete Mack

    Chopped:
    About 8 oz mushrooms per 5c flour.
    Shallots and/or red onion to match.

    Tamari
    Sage and rosemary; herbes de Provence works too. Use enough that the sauce tastes a bit overspiced.
    As they cook, add a couple ounces of wine or vermouth to let them cook longer.
    The final sauce should be dry enough to begin sticking. (Let it pick up moisture from the cooking bread rather than the reverse.)

    Optionally, add 1/2c grated parmesan.

    Use garlic oil to spread on the rolled out dough, and more on top after the rolls rise.
    Oven at 350F for 25-30 minutes, depending on size

    First time, I used 5c flour. Since then I’ve increased it by 50% or 100%. They go fast! I also stopped making them “as big as your head”, since they are so rich and dense.

    .

  4. Mary Beth

    That hot chocolate sounds amazing and I’m trying it tomorrow. Or maybe tonight. Soon, anyway.

  5. Elaine T

    Those rolls sound amazingly yummy, Pete. I wish I could still eat things with garlic and mushrooms, I’d love them.

    On hot chocolate, this is our favorite version:
    This one serves four 8 oz sizes. Can be cut down if you feel like fiddling. We usually make the full batch and anything not dranik instantly is saved for the next day.

    3 cups whole milk
    1/3 cup water
    1/3 cup sugar
    6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped or melted

    bring milk, water and sugar just to boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate. Whip chocolate in pan one minute with hand-held blender or transfer to traditional blender and whip on high speed one minute. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate

    The Chocolate Intemperance recipe from King Arthur Flour tastes very good and rich, too. When warm it’s pourable.

    And a couple others just because

    “World’s Best Hot Chocolate” (serves 5)

    3 cups whole milk
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    3/4 teaspoon cardamom
    1 cinnamon stick
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 -1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or melted.

    In large heavy saucepan combine milk, cream, sugar, cocoa, cardamom and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 30 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir in chocolate and cook a few more minutes until incorporated. Stire in vanilla. Serve hot or refrigerate and reheat when ready to use. If too thick or chocolatey for your taste, thin with milk.

    Pierre Herme’s original hot chocolate (serves 2)

    2 cups water
    1/4 cup sugar
    4 -1/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
    1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder

    Bring water and sugar to boil in medium saucepan stirring until sugar dissolves. Add chocolate and cocoa and stirring with whisk, heat until one bubble pops on surface. Remove saucepan from heat and whip about a minute with immersion blender or in regular blender. Serve immediately or pour into a container to cool. Can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated.

  6. Pete Mack

    Elaine–
    I suspect something like balsamic caramelized onion would work, too. Extremely savory, and a little bit acidic and sweet.

  7. Rachel

    I am SO trying those mushroom rolls — with the parmesan — the next time I’m not really doing the keto thing, or this weekend, whichever. Mmmm.

    Elaine, I really liked the one with the egg yolk, but Pierre Herme’s recipe looks very tempting as well! Plus it would give me an excuse to play with my immersion blender.

    Mary Beth, I’m sure you will love it, especially if it’s raining there!

  8. Pete Mack

    Let me know how it comes out. One last thing: I tend to use somewhat wetter than average dough, but I don’t have exact measurements.

  9. Jeanine

    This reminds me of the very best hot chocolate with whipped cream I have ever had. It was from a food truck parked at the foot of a waterfall in Iceland in November. It was so good I went back for a second serving ten minutes later. Wish it was around the corner instead of so far away so I could have it again, but I can’t deny the view was exceptional!

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