Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hot Chocolate

This serves as a little break- I know there's no orange here and I've broken my own rule already.  But, it's a break with purpose. I can personally think of a few reasons to have hot chocolate right now...

Hot chocolate is certainly an important topic, and I've not written about it yet. Yes, there's a cold version, but it's not the same as the warm. Winter is a better time to be discussing and making hot chocolate anyway, you have to admit. It's not that you couldn't drink it year round, but it's more understandably more soothing when you can be warmed at a time you are in want of warming.

Hot chocolate is a very good thing. Well, maybe I shouldn't be lumping it all into the "very good" category. Maybe hot chocolate isn't something to be diplomatic about...
But anyway, if I have a choice I think I prefer this type- the type made with a ganache instead of cocoa powder and sugar. It's creamy, rich and thick, and sometimes creeps up to the line of pudding/custard territory. It's a special treat.
As far as percentages go, my preference is dark, and I (very luckily) have easy access to a good 72%- so that is what I use. Use whatever good chocolate you can find, but since you're not doing much to alter the chocolate you start with, make sure it's a chocolate you would want to eat (the stress is on "good" here, folks). After all, if you wouldn't want to be eating it as is, why would you want to drink it?

If your chocolate base is prepared, which doesn't take too long, you're ready to go. All you need is hot milk. 
I like 3-4 T of ganache with about  3/4 to 1 cup (180-240 ml) of milk, but it's really up to whoever is making it whether they want to be lighter with the chocolate or add with a heavier hand. 
Just remember that more can always be added, but it's a bit more difficult to take it away. 
Then again, I guess you could always add milk to correct the terrible error. 

Dark Hot Chocolate
serves 5-8 (recipe makes about 18 T ganache)

5 oz (140 g) dark chocolate (60-70%)
1/4 c (58 g) sugar
1/2 c (120 ml) heavy cream
Small splash of vanilla extract, if desired

Hot milk, preferably whole milk

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate along with sugar and cream, stirring frequently until smooth (it should only take a few minutes). Add vanilla if using and whisk to incorporate. 
Place 3-4 T (45-60 ml or 60-80 g) chocolate ganache in a cup along with a splash of hot milk. Stir until smooth and add milk to taste (maybe 6-8 oz. or 180-240 ml). 
Alternatively, whisk the ganache into a pan of hot milk.

A dollop of whipped cream on top is optional.

Refrigerate any extra ganache in a covered container. Try to use within a week.

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