Well Deb’s off and done it again. This decadent dark hot chocolate is exactly what it sounds, both rich and deeply chocolate-y, without being excessively sweet. Which brings us to my husband’s first comment of the day (while always an amusing reel, this one takes the cake): “Jeeze, your hips feel like…the holocaust.” A comment some would deem terribly inappropriate, others funny, and others yet downright politically incorrect. But I smiled and ran with it. And by ran with it I mean high-tailed it to the kitchen to make a cup of this decadent dark hot chocolate. You see, much like the proceedings of World War II, this week all started with a series of unfortunate events (does anyone else remember that book series?)
Chapter 1: Eva does a number on her finger while cutting a slice of stale bread, while waiting for “just one more cup of coffee” to brew. She holds pressure for about an hour, then high-tails it to the urgent care clinic to get stitched up. (An opportune week for outpatient psychiatry one might add.) Chapter 2: Eva heads to Panera for lunch because she can’t really be expected to cook in this state, can she? Chapter 2.5: Later that day, Eva comes down with a nasty bout of food poisoning that knocks her off her feet for the next two or three days. While many are chanting New Year’s, New You this weekend you can find me in the kitchen nose deep in a mug of decadent dark hot chocolate without shame. Holocaust hips or not, I think you’ve earned it.
Sob story aside, this particular recipe heralds from Cooks Illustrated. So you know it’s just a shot of bourbon short of perfect. Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist subbing in some vanilla pod-infused sugar from Libbie Summers’ new book (clearly still swooning) to up the ante. Feel free to substitute plain granulated sugar—the results will still be sublime. While the season for holiday gifting has come and gone, this does also make an excellent gift from the kitchen. The mixture will keep in an airtight container at temperature for about 2 months.
- 1 fresh vanilla bean
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100 grams) vanilla-infused granulated sugar*
- 1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
- 3 oz. (85 grams) semi- or bitter-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- ½ cup (40 grams) dark chocolate cocoa powder, or any kind you like
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt or ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Run a 1-quart jar with tight fitting lid through the dishwasher to sterilize. (I used two mason jars). Using a sharp knife, cut a slit down one side of the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds and bean in the jar. Fill the jar with 2 cups of sugar, screw on lid, and shake until combined. Top jar with remaining cup of sugar. Set aside for 2 weeks in a cool, dry place. You may keep adding more sugar to the jar as you use it. One vanilla bean should last for 9 cups of sugar and sugar will keep indefinitely.
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a powdery consistency is achieved. Alternatively, chop or grate the chocolate as finely as possible, and stir into remaining ingredients. May store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.
- Heat one cup of milk of choice (cows’, soy, coconut, almond, etc.) in a saucepan over medium heat until steamy. Add 3 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix. Simmer over heat for 1-2 minutes, whisking until mix is completely dissolved. Pour into mug, top with extras of your choice, and enjoy!**
- *May sub for ½ cup granulated sugar combined with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from a tiny segment of fresh vanilla bean.
- **For a less sweet mocha treat, make hot chocolate as directed. Combine one serving hot chocolate with your usual cup of coffee. Taste and add sugar if necessary.