In the last couple of weeks, I’ve done a lot of writing about the fact that summer is right round the corner for those of you who live up north. Just to balance things out, I thought I’d pen something cosy for cold weather, dedicated to everyone who, like me, is about to experience the first winter chills. Here it is: my 7 tips for delicious, home-made hot chocolate.
1. Full-Fat Milk
If you’re drinking hot chocolate, the chances are good that you’re not thinking about your waistline. Full fat milk is essential, I find, in order to achieve that rich, velvety texture; you could use 2%, I suppose, if you desperately wanted to, but the result wouldn’t be the same.
2. Cinnamon Stick
Drop a cinnamon stick into your milk once it is in a pan on the stove top, and before it has started to bubble. This will give your hot choc a subtle, spicy flavour, but won’t make it overwhelmingly cinnamon-y.
3. Simmer Slowly
I know a lot of people heat up their milk in the microwave. This is useful from a practical point of view since it gets the job done quickly, and with minimum effort. I prefer to be old-fashioned, though, and to use the stove top. Slowly bringing your milk to a simmering point allows plenty of time for the cinnamon to infuse so that, in the end, the flavour is significantly better.
4. Dark and Milk Chocolate
For a flavour that is neither too intensely cocoa-ey, nor too cloyingly sweet, brake up a combination of luxurious milk and bitter dark chocolates, and drop these into the hot milk on the stove once it is simmering. Stir consistently until both varieties have melted and your drink is a smooth, pale brown. Perfect.
Once your hot milk and your chocolate are well combined (you may need to do a little whisking if this taking some time), remove the cinnamon stick from the pan and pour the liquid into a flask with a completely sealable lid. Once this is screwed on tightly, shake the whole thing vigorously for a few minutes. This will give the hot chocolate a gorgeous, foamy quality which makes it, somehow, even more divine.
6. A Little Kick
If you’re keen to make your hot chocolate just a little bit more grown up, add a dash of your favourite liqueur to the mug before your pour in the milk and chocolate concoction. I think kahlua works well, but you’re free to get creative.
Finish off your mug with a sprinkling of baby marshmallows. If you’re going for an all-out, decadent extravaganza you might want to do whipped cream as well. Ordinarily though, I choose one or the other.
There are few things more comforting and satisfying on a rainy winter’s evening that curling up on the couch with a big, steaming mug. Hopefully, my list of 7 tips for delicious home-made hot chocolate will help you to get through long, cold hours; do you have any suggestions of your own to add to it?
Top Photo Credit: macinate