While a cup of hot chocolate in winter can provide much needed warmth, salve and satisfaction (it’s warm liquid chocolate after all), you’ve got to admit that it is usually never seen as an extravagant or luxurious treat. The best cups are always those that are made at home.
It is the drink mothers make for their children to warm them up after being out in the wet and cold. It is the drink to make for a loved one who is ill and has no appetite for much else. It is the perfect hot drink to have before you go to bed. I have made it for my daughter for her 3 a.m. snack when she was two and severely jet-lagged upon returning to Toronto from Singapore.
But making myself a cup of hot chocolate (from scratch, not from a packet) is serious self-pampering in my world. It is my idea of luxury, for I would not make a steaming hot cup for myself if I did not have the chance to curl up on the couch and totally immerse in a good book while sipping it. In other words, I like to have the time to savour my cup of hot chocolate. It is not a drink to be quickly gulped down like espresso. I like to sip it slowly and enjoy it thoroughly, while making sure that I finish it all before it has the chance to go cold.
I like to use cocoa powder instead of chocolate to make my hot chocolate. What with all the health-boosting qualities of cocoa powder that I have been reading all over the internet, why not? I start off with the recipe that is printed on the can of Fry’s brand cocoa powder that I buy but make it my way. It is all very simple to do: dissolve a tablespoon of cocoa powder in a couple tablespoons of milk in a small pot over the stove. Once no lumps remain, pour in a cup of milk (I like to use half unsweetened almond milk and half whole cow’s milk) into the pot and heat gently until steaming hot, stirring constantly. And now is the time when I add the sweetener to taste: of all the sweeteners I have used – honey, maple syrup and confectioner’s sugar – honey is my favourite as it gives the hot cocoa a lovely subtle floral taste.
Pour the hot cocoa into a cup and enjoy with a good book in hand. Or present it to a loved one as an unexpected treat.