It's my absolutely, totally, completely, entirely, magnificently favorite time of the year: The Holidays. I start loving life around the beginning of October and there's practically nothing that can get in the way of my joy during the Fall and overall holiday season. In fact, I was just commenting the other day that I wished it was December 5th all the time. The reply back was "but then Christmas would never come". And my answer was "yes, but the anticipation of Christmas would be there...always." I love anticipating Christmas. I don't even love Christmas day because by then I'm already mourning the season's close. So right about now - I'm living it up! I'm watching all the Christmas specials on TV. I've decorated my house with *only* real pine (it would not be Christmas without the smell of pine trees inside). I'm buying ingredients for fudge and restocking my wrapping paper. I'm filling up on Peppermint Mochas and baking with cranberries. And I'm making hot chocolate at home...
Most people wouldn't even think of making hot chocolate from scratch, 'cuz it's just SO easy to rip open a pack 'o Swiss Miss and mix it with hot water. But People - making hot chocolate isn't really much harder and it tastes SO much richer. It's like drinking a chocolate bar!
I remember my mom used to make us hot chocolate when I was little. But I've never asked her what she put in it. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume milk, cocoa powder and sugar. However, since I wasn't sure and it was too late to call her... I decided to just make up my own recipe. I liked the idea of using my trusty Vahlrona so I opted for a 71% bittersweet chocolate instead of cocoa powder (though semisweet Nestlé chips will work just fine.)
We only keep nonfat milk in the house, however I almost always have a pint of heavy whipping cream around too. So when I need a "richer" milk for baking I typically go about 25% cream to 75% fat free milk. I figure that might sorta = whole milk? Fat free milk, half & half, 2% milk, whole... it'll all work just fine.
I like the idea of adding spices to hot chocolate; typically cinnamon, but I wanted to do something a little creative so I decided to throw in a bit of five spice. It's very subtle but gives the chocolate a bit more complex flavor - which I thought was quite nice.
Whether using fat free milk or whole this hot chocolate is surprisingly thick. I didn't have any mini marshmallows around so I had to use a big one, but it is a REQUIREMENT to drop at least some type of marshmallow into your hot chocolate. I suppose some sweetened whipped cream will do as well.
It's been ridiculously cold here in California. Not getting out of the 40°s during the day. I ♥ it. I absolutely ♥ it. But ♥ing it doesn't mean it's not still darn cold outside. So make a big pot of this and keep your own lovies warm. It's that wonderful time of year to cuddle inside with them over a warm mug of chocolate.
Homemade Hot Chocolate for 2
2 1/2 oz. semisweet/bittersweet chocolate (~70% cacao)
2 cups milk
2 t sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t five spice
pinch of salt
Combine everything but the milk in a pot and heat over low until the spices combine with the melted chocolate to make a paste. Add the milk and bring to just a boil, stirring often.