Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Luxurious Cup of Chocolate for a Cozy Day

There's hot chocolate, and then there's hot chocolate. This is the latter: a thick, rich, velvety cup of chocolate that feels and tastes like the very essence of decadence. It takes more time and effort than your average cup of stir-milk-into-powder cocoa, but it's well worth it. On a day when the fog is creeping up the cliffs to envelop the house--I can now barely see the vegetable garden only 100-150 feet below the house, and through the skylight I can see only the tiniest hints of blue sky--there is nothing better than curling up with a good book and a cup of drinking chocolate

A few notes on the ingredients: it calls for whole milk, but frankly, I think you can use skim (if you so desire) and not lose much of the velvety richness. We used skim this morning, and I had no complaints. Don't feel that you need to spring for bottled water, either--good tap water will be perfectly sufficient. As for the chocolate, if you're going to run the hot chocolate through a blender or use an immersion blender on it, I don't think it's worth the trouble to shave the chocolate with a serrated knife. Chop it up finely, and it won't have any trouble being adequately melted and blended. If you plan to hand-whisk it, though, I might suggest making sure the chocolate is chopped very finely.

A final note: if you haven't yet read Jeffrey Steingarten's side-splittingly funny It Must Have Been Something I Ate, I wholeheartedly recommend that you pick up a copy. It's written in self-contained vignettes, good for the busy reader or foodie, and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Chocolat Chaud

From: It Must Have Been Something I Ate (Jeffrey Steingarten); adapted from Pierre Hermé
Yield: Four 6-ounce cups of hot chocolate.


  1. 2-1/4 cups whole milk
  2. 1/4 cup bottled still water
  3. 1/4 cup (generous) superfine granulated sugar
  4. 1 100-gm bar (3-1/2 ounces) dark bittersweet chocolate, Scharffen Berger, Valrhona, or Lindt (see note, below), finely sliced with a serrated bread knife
  5. 1/4 cup (1 ounce or 28 gm) cocoa powder, loosely packed, preferably Valrhona


  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, stir together the milk, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped chocolate and the cocoa and bring to a boil again, whisking until the chocolate and cocoa are dissolved and the mixture has thickened. Reduce the heat to very low.
  3. Blend for 5 minutes with an immersion mixer or whirl the hot chocolate in a standard blender for half a minute, until thick and foamy.


  1. Steingarten recommends using a dark chocolate containing close to 70 percent cocoa, though Lindt bittersweet also works just fine.
  2. The Mayans and the Aztecs considered the froth the best part. Today, five minutes with an immersion mixer or a blender accomplishes what a half hour of beating did long ago.


Bee said...

I love J Steingarten! He is truly one of the funniest and most clever food writers . . . although some of his food adventures go into territory way too esoteric for my actual taste.

As for this hot chocolate, I missed out on this one -- but I will be trying it soon. I am staying at my mother-in-law's right now, and I'm tempted to walk down to the corner shop and check out what they have in the way of chocolate. Does a brisk walk cancel out the chocolate drinking? hmmmm...

I was just reading about the Aztecs, as I was doing a little research on the Day of the Dead.

Bee said...

I am drinking this delicious chocolate right now . . . and it's gorgeous stuff. Believe it or not, they had the 70% Lindt at the little corner shop down the road. (My MIL lives in Surrey, just south of Croydon -- which is more or less south London.) Clearly, it is advantageous to be that much closer to Switzerland.

The weather has turned cold here, and it was a moment of childish bliss to run down the hill as fast as we could . . . my little daughter, her younger cousin, and I.

Anne said...

Oh, lucky you to have a cup of this chocolate right now! I'm back at work and would like nothing better than to sipping some hot chocolate of my own. Glad you're enjoying it!

And you know, the chocolate is the dark stuff, which is actually good for you... !

It has been too long since I last ran down a hill just for the fun of it. Or, for that matter, rolled down a grassy hill like a log. I used to love that when I was little.

I wish it would turn properly cold here! It was blissfully chilly and foggy in Big Sur this weekend, but up here we keep getting teased with brief spells of highs in the 60s before they shoot back up into the 80s. I expect more temperance from California weather! This week we're expecting a more respectable array of mid-70s, with the possibility of rain over the weekend. I'll believe it when I see it.

Brave Sir Robin said...

OMG! Yum, yum, YUM!!!!

I think this is a winner!

Did you ever try the drinking chocolate Starbucks used to sell? I loved it, but it isn't available around here any more.

How have you been?

Anne said...

I don't think I ever tried Starbucks's drinking chocolate, but it rings a bell. Was it in the last few years that they sold it?

Been okay... busy, but okay. On top of work being hectic, yesterday evening was thrown into disarray by the unexpected arrival of a lost cat. Kitten, really, as he's only about 8 months old (I think--he has that adolescent look about him). I'm hoping to post some pictures this evening.