The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

9:48 PM

Food of the Day - Hot Chocolate

Posted by Food Pear-ings

Hot Chocolate
Also known as hot cocoa or drinking chocolate,
this is a  beverage combining chocolate and hot milk or cream, and considered to be one of America's most adored comfort foods.
Mid-eighteenth century  cocoa powder was invented in Holland. Cocoa powder is easily blended with milk and water, lending to an ease for some in creating some of our most popular varieties.
Cocoa Plant and Beans

However, drinking chocolate extends back far beyond modern times, back to the Mayan empire, more than two millennia ago.
Since that time, many variations have been formed,
but hot chocolate remains one of the most popular drinks in the world.

Types of Hot Chocolate
In general, the terms "hot chocolate" and "hot cocoa" can be used synonymously.
However, hot cocoa may be used to refer to powdered chocolate,
while hot chocolate may be used to mean a drink made from a whole chocolate.
The term "drinking chocolate" is also used to refer
to chocolate drinks made from whole chocolate.

Hot Cocoa
Hot cocoa usually refers to a drink made from powdered chocolate,
to which sugar is usually added, to sweeten the drink.
This type of product is very common in the U.S., and is often sold in packets.
Hot cocoa usually comes either with
powdered milk incorporated (to which the consumer simply adds water),
or without any milk (where milk is used to make the drink).
Aztec Spicy Hot Cocoa

Hot Chocolate
This can be a drink either made from shavings or bits of chocolate,
or may sometimes be used interchangeably with hot cocoa.
Assuming we use this term to mean a non-powder form of the drink, whole chocolate is used,
which usually has sugar already incorporated (though bitter chocolate may be used).
The chocolate can be melted into the drink using pieces or shavings
of chocolate, and milk is usually used,
which combines with the cocoa butter already in the chocolate,
to create a wonderful, rich drink.
Depending on the richness of the drink desired, various types of chocolate may be used,
from bitter to sweet.
If you like the flavor of unsweetened chocolate,
but you want to add just a hint of sweetness to your hot chocolate,
simply add a bit of sugar until your reach
the desired sweetness.
Hot Chocolate

Simple (but Tasty) Home Recipe
 Go to the store, and purchase your favorite chocolate bar, and some milk or half 'n' half.
Depending on the richness and deep chocolate quality you desire,
you may choose to use regular dark chocolate, or semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate.
However, since we are adding milk to this drink,
do not use milk chocolate.
Also remember that if you use a bitter chocolate,
your hot chocolate will be very rich, but it will not be sweet!  For a sweet drink, I recommend
a bar of fine quality dark chocolate.
Grate, shave, or finely chop the chocolate bar.

In a saucepan, heat the milk on medium-low heat.
Once it starts to steam, slowly stir in your chocolate, stirring constantly.
Do not stop stirring until you are done!  The taste of scalded milk will ruin your drink.
Continue to add chocolate
until the drink has reached your preferred strength,
then take it off the heat, and pour into cups.
Garnish with whipped cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, or more shaved chocolate!

Tip: Try using different types of chocolate, and don't skimp on a dollar or two!
A high butterfat-content, quality chocolate
will make all the difference.

A few worldly variations to try
French - chocolat chaud
What you will need
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup  hot water
3 cups hot milk
Sugar, to taste
Whipped cream
Chocolate shavings
Using a double boiler , melt the chopped chocolate and  water
 Stir in milk until the chocolate mixture is smooth
 Pour the hot chocolate into cups and add sugar as desired
Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings
Chocolat Chaud
Italian - cioccolata calda
What you’ll need
4.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate 
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons of corn starch
In a medium saucepan, over low heat
Melt chocolate with a small portion of your milk, until creamy
Slowly add remaining milk, until blended
Whisk in sugar and corn starch
Cook over very low heat until mixture becomes thick and creamy
Garnish with a bit of whipped cream and cinnamon
Cioccolata Calda

Spanish - chocolate caliente
What you will need
4 ounces milk chocolate
2 cups cups whole milk
1/2 tsp. corn starch
Add milk to medium saucepan, over low heat
Add corn starch, until desolved
Bring to a low boil, then remove from heat
Do not allow milk to cool
Add chocolate, stir until completely melted
Add sugar to taste if desired
Searve immediately
Chocolate Caliente

Mexican - Hot Chocolate
What you will need
1 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
3.5 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Cocoa powder, for serving
 In a large pot over medium heat
 Whisk together milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and nutmeg
Add chocolate chips, stir until chocolate is melted
 Cover and turn heat to low for 5 minutes.
Garnish with a pinch of cocoa powder
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Also try making hot chocolate with white chocolate,
for a tasty, non-traditional variation.
Also, hot chocolate goes great with pastries and desserts, so don't be afraid
to pair up your chocolaty drink with a sweet bakery favorite!

There are not a lot of flavors out there that hate chocolate.  
But for a perfect pairing, try some of the following delicious additions:
Whipped cream
Chocolate sprinkles or shavings
White chocolate shavings
Coffee (was there ever a better combination than coffee and chocolate?)

Chili (popular in Mexican chocolate drinks)

Interested in a post on the history and uses of chocolate?
Click the comment link below this post, and let us know!

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