Spicy Hot Chocolate for rainy daysDecember 3, 2015
Apparently, it’s been the second hottest Spring in recorded history this year in Australia. And yet, we keep getting hit with the real scorchers in the middle of the week!
Here’s a spicy hot chocolate recipe to keep you feeling warm on those rainy weekend days when the beach is out of the question. If anything can cheer you up about having missed the sunshine during the week, it’s a cup of this luxury hot chocolate. With Ancho Chile powder, fresh real cinnamon and vanilla bean pods, it’s indulgent and cheerful: just what a good hot chocolate should be!
Ancho Chile powder is the pure powder of the Ancho chilli plant – it’s a fragrant, smoky chilli pepper that will add aromatics to whatever it’s added in, as well as the all important spicy heat. If you can’t find the powdered variety, dried Ancho chillis with their seeds remove can be pulverised in a coffee grinder or blender to create the same thing. It’s perfect in a chipotle style seasoned chicken as well.
It may seem obvious, but the great success of a good hot chocolate is of course a good quality, very dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. We used 60% in our version, but for real dark and stormy types, an 80% or 90% chocolate would also produce a wonderfully bitter, intense brew.
Spicy Hot Chocolate for rainy days
- 4 cups full cream milk
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ vanilla bean, scraped (or 2 teaspoons of high quality vanilla extract)
- 6 ounces of good quality dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa), broken into small pieces
- ¼ teaspoon Ancho Chile powder
- Pinch of salt
- Place a medium saucepan over a low heat. Pour in milk, sugar, cinnamon stick and the vanilla bean (both the pod and scraped vanilla). Heat until a very gentle simmer starts, then remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod and cinnamon stick, discard.
- Create a double boiler by setting a stainless steel or glass bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering water. The surface of the water should not be touching the bottom of the bowl! Add the broken up chocolate and heat until the chocolate has almost completely melted. When only a few lumps of solids remain, remove the bowl from the heat and stir to complete the melting process (this will ensure the chocolate remains melted and does not begin to reform into solids).
- Place the steeped milk back over a medium low heat and slowly pour in the melted chocolate. Whisk until completely incorporated and the mixture is hot. Add a pinch of salt and the Ancho Chile powder. Divide between mugs and top with cream or handmade marshmallows, if you like!
If you’ve never had a homemade marshmallow on top of your hot chocolate, you really haven’t lived. We’re not sure what they do to the store bought variety, but it’s almost impossible to create that fluffly yet elastic springy mass of sweetness. The homemade version is a very different beast, almost like a softer, more gelatinous Turkish delight. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage has an amazing recipe for super sticky, melt-in-your-mouth (and melt in your spicy hot chocolate!) marshmallows, flavoured naturally with beetroot juice of course.