My first experience of hot chocolate was the sugary, powdery confection type. It was a bit of a guilty pleasure as a child when anything sweet was a treat. We didn’t have it too often at home when I was very little, so when we did it was pretty special. I may have been known to sneak a spoonful or two straight from the packet…
While I wouldn’t say I’m a total hot chocolate fiend, every now and then a little shot of rich, thick chocolate is just what I need. Especially in the middle of winter.
I’m fortunate enough to have had the chance to share a pot of the famous hot chocolate at Angelina’s in Paris (on the menu as Le chocolat chaud à l’ancienne dit “l’Africain” if you want to give it a go). It’s almost a meal in itself, and I certainly didn’t need anything else that day. I also live not too far from Rumsey’s in Wendover where you can get a rich hot shot of chocolate to kickstart your weekend.
But best of all is when I make one for myself. This is partly because I like to blend a few different chocolate percentages to get the right balance of sweetness and richness with a hint of bitter. And as it’s Christmas, I’ve gone all seasonal and been adding lots of festive spices to create a Mulled Hot Chocolate.
Nothing quite says Christmas like freshly grated nutmeg and clementine zest. Oh, and a generous pinch of ginger. Make sure you lean over the pan and inhale lots if you make this so that you get the full aroma hit.
Mulled Hot Chocolate is very quick to make, so if you have 5 minutes quiet time in the afternoon and need a pick me up, you can whip one of these up very quickly. And then sit yourself somewhere comfy with a little time to really enjoy this delicious drink.
This recipe produces a generous espresso sized version of thick hot chocolate – but if you want to lighten it, you could mix in 250ml of the milk of your choice. There’s no dairy involved in the espresso shot version, so it’s perfect for a chocolate lover who is dairy intolerant or vegan.
Mulled Hot Chocolate
(dairy free & gluten free)
Measurements per 1 person for a generous espresso-sized shot (just multiply for the number of people you’re serving)
2 tsp cacao powder
120ml (1/2 cup) water
2 whole cloves
½ tspn honey (or coconut sugar)
12.5g 72% dark chocolate, chopped
12.5g 85% dark chocolate, chopped
1/8 tspn cinnamon
1/8 tspn ground ginger
Grating of nutmeg
Optional: 1/8 tspn pink salt
A little grated clementine zest
1-2 pieces of clementine pieces squeezed
1. Put cacao powder and a little water into a small saucepan over medium heat and mix together. Add the remaining water, cloves and honey. Stir while bringing the mixture to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, letting the mix thicken.
2. Add the rest of the spices, salt, zest and clementine juice, stirring everything together. Add the dark chocolate and let it melt. Whisk the mixture for a minute, then leave it to simmer for a couple more minutes. It should get nice and thick – add a splash of water if it looks too thick or a little more chocolate if it’s too thin.
3. Pour into an espresso cup or small mug, cup with your hands and slowly sip.
If the drink is too rich, heat a little non-dairy milk in your chocolate pan to use up any leftover chocolate and mix with your shot for a lighter tasting drink.
Additional Mulled Hot Chocolate flavour options:
– add a few chilli flakes or a little freshly ground black pepper to spice things up
– drop in a few small chunks of 100% cocoa chocolate for a REALLY rich drink
– sprinkle in a little turmeric or freshly ground cardamom with the other spices
– create a gingerbread hot chocolate by leaving out the clementine and zest, and adding 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice
– get a little boozy and extra warming with a shot of brandy or whisky