Today’s post is in honor of my sister Mona, who, recently went to work at Godiva. Ahh, yes, I can now honestly say that I have family in the chocolate business. Hey, I never realized how much I wanted to say that until right this second!
Hot chocolate has to be one of my favorite drinks on the planet. It’s decadent, creamy, and lightly energizing. It never gives me the borderline violent jolt of coffee, but it does offer a bit of a lift. It always tastes decadent and warming to me, especially when made with high-quality ingredients.
Plus, it’s flexible. Sometimes I experiment with the flavorings, as in my Persian Hot Chocolate. I figured, why not? Hot chocolate is so luxurious, and saffron, quite possibly the most important flavoring in Persian cuisine, is certainly luxurious in its own right. Why not put the two together, and throw in some cardamom for good measure?
Not to mention that using a high quality chocolate and spices of your own is much less pricey than paying $10 or more for a package of pre-flavored drinking chocolate mix. Or paying close to $4 per mug if you’re buying it as a single serving. Sure, if you only drink it once every now and then, then $4 a mug isn’t so bad. But, if like me, you like to drink it several times a week ;-), learning how to make your own is cost effective.
A word about the chocolate you use. I long ago stopped using milk chocolate in my hot chocolate. In both chocolate eating and drinking, I much prefer the deep, dark and rich flavor of dark chocolate. Plus, without the milk to mask or overpower the spices, you can really taste any creative flavorings you might add in.
I go out of my way to get unsweetened cocoa, and then sweeten it to my liking. Some days it tastes great to me with no sweetener at all, so I like to keep all options open by using unsweetened cocoa from the get go. This is the stuff I prefer for my hot chocolate:
I find that adding in a bit of powdered raw cacao adds a nice earthiness to the chocolate, but if you can’t find it, feel free to use the high quality cocoa powder or meltable drinking chocolate of your choice.
To make the recipe vegan, simply read the labels to make sure there are no milk products in the chocolate you use, and use an alternative to milk, such as almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk, as your liquid.
Persian Hot Chocolate
For one serving:
8 ounces milk of choice
2 generous teaspoons cocoa powder
1 generous teaspoon raw cacao powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 pinch of saffron, finely ground and dissolved in 1 Tablespoon of hot water
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Sweetener of choice (stevia, agave nectar, sugar, etc)
1. Warm a non-reactive sauce pan under low heat. Add in chocolate and cardamom powder, and lightly “toast” for 20-30 seconds over low heat to bring out the flavors.
2. Add in one-third of the milk and whisk until chocolate is lump-free and well-dissolved into the milk.
3. Add in the rest of the milk and whisk again. Do not boil, but cook on low heat until the edges of the milk start to bubble.
4. Stir in vanilla and saffron and remove from heat.
5. If using sweetener, sweeten to taste and enjoy!