Milk Chocolate Hot Chocolate

Like most people who cook a lot, I have too many ingredients in my cupboards. Flours, grains, nuts, dried fruits, sweeteners… Some I use regularly while others–which seemed like a great idea at the time I bought them–sort of recede further and further until they fall over some precipice in the back, and disappear into myth until I find them years later and wonder what I was thinking.

In a recent overhaul of the cupboard space, I found I had a large number of packets of hot chocolate mix. They came from all over the world. When I consider how precious luggage space is on any trip, I have to laugh that I thought hot chocolate was a prudent purchase. But anyway, there they are and here I am wondering why I haven’t used them.

Hot chocolate is one of those things I enjoy on occasion. It’s a bit sweet to have on a daily basis, but when the weather is blustery and I’ve got nowhere to go, I can’t imagine anything nicer to drink. Throw in a little knitting, the dog at my feet and some good conversation and I’m very happy. So again, why haven’t I used these well-traveled beverage mixes? Probably because I tried them once and liked but didn’t love them. True of a lot of things. I feel guilty throwing food away, so back they go, over the precipice.

I’ve made a lot of hot chocolate using ingredients most people have on hand: cocoa powder, sugar, milk. My favorite packaged mix used chunks of light and dark chocolate, and though the flavor was really nice, the chocolate never fully dissolved, which didn’t look great. So I bought some nice chocolate chunks of my own and threw them in some milk to see if I’d have the same problem. I didn’t.

I know it’s very of this moment to eschew milk chocolate in favor of healthier, dark, bitter, complex, thought-provoking chocolate, but I love milk chocolate and this recipe will be waiting for those who wish to join me when fashion moves onto something else.

Milk Chocolate Hot Chocolate (makes 1 large mug or 2 teacups)

1-1/2 cups (360ml) whole milk
1/4 cup (120ml) milk chocolate, chopped (I used Tcho’s milk chocolate couverture drops), plus more for garnish
Whipped cream, sugar, vanilla for garnish

Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Add a pinch of sugar and a few drops of vanilla if you want to sweeten and flavor the cream. You can also leave it plain, as the hot chocolate is sweet on it’s own, and the unsweetened cream is a nice contrast.

In a small saucepan, combine the milk and chopped chocolate. Whisk continuously while bringing the mixture to a simmer over low heat. You want the chocolate to be hot but not come to a boil, otherwise the milk will develop a skin. If a skin does develop, remove it before serving.

Pour the chocolate into cups, and garnish with a dollop of cream and sprinkling of chopped or shaved chocolate.