Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich is going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.
Today: If you want to make hot chocolate that really tastes like chocolate, you've got to add water. (Just trust Alice on this one.)
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If your idea of great hot chocolate is something thick enough to hold up a spoon, this one may not be for you! But stick around and hear me out.
This recipe is not thick like pudding -- because it does not include any thickeners or starches or a ton of cream -- but it is all about the flavor of great dark chocolate. It’s worthy of the rare artisan bar you’ve been hoarding, if you do that sort of thing, or you can use any favorite semisweet or bittersweet (of any cacao percentage). Why no cream in the recipe? Why a combination of milk and water (water?!).
Take a leap of faith here: A leaner mixture -- with less dairy and less fat -- allows the flavors and nuances of the chocolate to shine. You can always plop a dollop of whipped cream on top, where it will do a great job of contrasting with the chocolate rather than diluting or dulling it’s flavor. And, if the demitasse is too strong for any guest, pass a separate little pitcher of cream and allow everyone to customize…Everyone will love this. I promise.
Two tips for the best hot chocolate:
Hotter is not always better! Just as the texture and flavor of a latte or café au lait is damaged by overheated milk, your hot chocolate will be similarly diminished if you heat it beyond 180° F!
Make it ahead for a more velvety texture: Let the mixture cool and rest in the fridge for several hours or overnight. The mixture will thicken naturally as the cocoa particles in the chocolate absorb more of the liquid. Reheat (carefully) before serving.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).