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Recipe Swap: Hot chocolate. Magic in a mug

The cure for homesickness (or other winter-related blues) 
is really, really, really, good hot chocolate

cup of hot chocolate

Food memories are vivid. We remember not just what we ate or drank, but the smallest details of when and where.

Early winter recalls a year on a post-university, backpacking trip in Europe. As winter set in, the fun was over.

Hostels were colder and emptier. I was homesick. Other young sojourners’ spirits were just as low. Most were headed to warmer spots south, as was I. But in December, my route was winding through cold, snow-covered Germany. Fortunately, one of my travelling companions had pre-arranged a visit with a very kind family who took us in awhile. During our stay, I recall much good food and conversation around candlelit tables, and one very special mug of hot chocolate in particular.

It was served on a day our hosts took us for a tour of the countryside, stopping at a small inn for a hot beverage. The steaming drink put in front of me was the smoothest, thickest, creamiest, and certainly the very best hot chocolate I’d ever tasted.

Possibly, it was just the perfect moment for a food memory to settle in, as a road-weary, Europe-on-10-bucks-a-day type suddenly experiencing real luxury and leisure in surroundings oozing with gemutlichkeit. Obviously, someone had a great recipe for that mug of magic, concocting it with care and top-quality ingredients, like generous melted chocolate and thick cream.

At any rate, the recollection of sipping it in that cosy inn still lingers all these years later. It’s one of my fondest food and travel memories.

Needless to say, it forever raised my expectations for how truly delicious hot chocolate can taste.

I leave you with a few recipes for perfecting your own cold-winter-day drink, no matter where you may be spending it.

Dark Chocolate Steamer

  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2-1/2 c. milk
  • 2-1/2 oz. (75 g) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c. 35 per cent cream, (optional)

In a small saucepan, combine cocoa powder, sugar and a small quantity of the milk. At medium heat, whisk in the rest of the milk. Once mixture is heated through, stir in semi-sweet chocolate until melted. In a bowl, with whisk or electric mixer, beat cream until thick. Garnish hot chocolate with whipped cream (optional).

Prep time: 10 minutes.
Cooking time: 2 to 5 minutes.
Serves: 3.

Recipe courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada

Decadent Hot Chocolate

  • 2-1/2 c. milk, divided
  • 1 c. 18 per cent table cream, divided
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

In saucepan, heat two cups of the milk and the cream over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming. Meanwhile, in bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa and salt. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup cold milk and vanilla to make a smooth paste. Reduce heat to medium low and gradually whisk cocoa mixture into hot milk mixture until blended. Heat, stirring, for about two minutes or until steaming hot. Ladle hot chocolate into four warmed mugs. Serve immediately.

Tips: Add 1 tbsp. coffee- or chocolate-flavoured liqueur and/or 1/2 cup strong hot coffee to each mug of hot chocolate and/or top with whipped cream.

Prep time: 5 minutes.
Cooking time: 8 minutes.
Serves: 4.

Recipe courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada

Extra-Chocolate Latte

  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 c. chocolate milk
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • Grated chocolate or cocoa powder, for garnish

In a saucepan or large glass measuring cup, combine flavouring ingredients (as called for). Gradually whisk in chocolate milk until blended. Heat in saucepan over medium heat or in microwave on Medium (50 per cent) power until steaming, three to five minutes. Pour into warmed latte bowls or large mugs and sprinkle or drizzle with suggested garnish.

Cooking Tips: Heat the milk just until steaming. If it boils, it may split and will not get frothy when whipped or blended.

To froth: Using a battery-powered latte whip or a whisk attachment on an immersion blender, whip hot milk mixture until frothy. Or, transfer to an upright blender or milk frother and blend or pump until frothy.

For the adventurous: Mocha Latte Steamer: add 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee to Extra-Chocolate Latte.

Prep time: 5 minutes.
Cooking time: 5 minutes.
Serves: 2.

Recipe courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada

Cinnamint Hot Chocolate

  • 4 c. 1 per cent or 2 per cent milk
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract

In a medium saucepan, heat milk and cinnamon sticks over medium heat until steaming, stirring occasionally. Add chocolate and brown sugar; whisk until melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla and peppermint extracts. Remove cinnamon sticks and ladle into mugs to serve.

Prep time: 5 minutes.
Cooking time: 8 minutes.
Serves: 4.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Anna Olson

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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