Raspberry Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate makes for cozy autumn and winter nights, and one way to make it even more cozy is to add booze.

Ingredients:

  • milk
  • dark chocolate bar
  • raspberry liqueur

Melt the chocolate in milk over low heat. Divvy it up into mugs, and then add liqueur. Half a shot per mug, probably. You’re adding the alcohol once it’s heated so the alcohol part doesn’t cook off, since the boiling point of ethanol is like 35°F lower than the boiling point of milk, so it might end up merely flavored without you noticing.

Not that you want to heat the milk to boiling – it’ll scald. But whatever: it’s not rocket science, but it is delicious.

Let’s talk chocolate

I think we can all agree that chocolate is fucking delicious.

There’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, but Dove dark chocolate is not the worst option.

As a pick-me-up, a dessert ingredient, a drink, or a sugar-packed excuse for a superfood, chocolate is pretty amazing.

It’s also, uh, got some problems. Like child slavery, exploitation of farmers, chemical runoff, and the dangers of monoculture. Which is kind of upsetting, because no one wants to be the person who weighs the welfare of children, farmers, and the environment against candy and picks candy. But chocolate.

So minimizing the damage involved in the purchase of chocolate (because let’s be real we are all picking chocolate over the welfare of other human beings and the planet we live on) is definitely a goal to work towards. There are a couple ways to do this: getting something that is Fair Trade certified is awesome, though getting organic on top of that is possibly useless. Another option is Rainforest Alliance chocolate, which doesn’t have the same minimum payment as Fair Trade but involves more education for farmers and a commitment to environmental impact as well.

These options aren’t actually necessarily more expensive – Hershey, for example, sources some cocoa more sustainably now and has committed to doing better – though some of the fancier options come in flavors like lavender. So next time you need a fix or you’re refilling your stash, consider checking out the stuff with the Fair Trade logo or the Rainforest Alliance frog.

Hot Chocolate

I’ve read a couple of times that hot chocolate is very different from hot cocoa, so I wanted to test it out. I read a couple recipes first, and so tried it roughly based on the seemingly Accepted Formula:

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces (half a standard box) of semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • bit of vanilla
  • some sugar
  • sprinkle of salt
  • half a thing of milk – enough for three coffee mugs

And you’re supposed to heat that on medium and whisk it. I just stuck it on medium low and stirred it every couple minutes. It ends up different than hot cocoa – maybe a little richer? Idk. It develops a thin skin on top a little faster.

But the super cool result of this was the realization that I don’t need to mix anything for delicious hot chocolate. Baking chocolate needs sugar because it’s too bitter to eat on its own, and vanilla and sugar just make everything better and baking chocolate won’t have it included. So for delicious hot chocolate that tastes exactly like your favorite chocolate bar:

Ingredients:

  • milk
  • your favorite chocolate bar (an ounce per cup seems like the right ratio?)

Just melt your favorite chocolate bar in milk on medium-low. Like, that’s it. Your favorite chocolate bar is now drinkable. You’re welcome.

Not recommended if your favorite chocolate bar is a Snickers.

Hot Chocolate Redux

So our milk’s expiration date was . . . a day that was not today. Whatever. It was within a week and it tasted fine.

But what that meant was that I definitely needed to make hot chocolate.

My friend Jules works in a fancy café attached to a culinary school, and she’d recommended a while ago that everyone add balsamic vinegar to their chocolate everything, which lead to a new variation on my hot cocoa recipe.

Ingredients:

  • however much sugar is left in the canister (add that to the grocery list)
  • 5-ish heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • something like a shot of balsamic vinegar
  • like a liter and a half of milk, wow we need to start buying it in smaller quantities or using it for stuff besides tea
  • the half can of Reddi Whip that went flat in the fridge

I’d claim I’m not usually this much of a disaster, but I’m adding another class to my workload after Spring Break, and then there’s Russia, and next year I’m probably going to need to take mostly 300/400 level classes, so the chances of me being less of a disaster anytime soon are slim to none.

This makes a big pot of hot cocoa, so fiddle with the proportions if you only want a bit. Combine sugar and cocoa, heat on medium. Add balsamic vinegar and sweetened heavy cream thing if you’re doing that, stirring a bit frantically until it’s a smooth paste. Heat that another minute or two, then slowly add the milk.

Heat that until hot but shy of boiling, stirring frequently, then serve.

Jules was right about the balsamic vinegar, because it tastes amazing.

Hot Chocolate

Who doesn’t like hot chocolate? It’s a warm, creamy treat, perfect for a winter afternoon.

The only problem is that hot chocolate mixes taste like lies and hot water.

Sure, you can get around that by microwaving some milk, but for a really decadent treat, make it from scratch. It’s surprisingly uncomplicated!

Not pictured: milk. I use Ghirardelli dark cocoa, but when we run out I'm gonna try Equal Exchange's organic dark cocoa powder, I think.

Not pictured: milk. I use Ghirardelli dark cocoa, but when we run out I’m gonna try Equal Exchange’s organic dark cocoa powder, I think.

Ingredients:

  • sugar
  • cocoa powder
  • milk
  • salt
  • vanilla or some other liquid extract

Put the sugar and cocoa in a pot on medium heat. For two, I usually use about a cup of sugar, and then add cocoa powder until mixed together it’s the color I want. The lighter it is, the more it’ll taste like milk chocolate. Heat that for a while – until it’s starting to melt if you can stand to wait that long, until it’s pretty warm to the touch if you can’t. If at least part of it is starting to melt, you’ll have fewer lumps later. Add a pinch of salt – it brings all the flavors together – and any other spices you’re throwing in. I just used three shakes of cinnamon and one of nutmeg, so it’s pretty mild. Then add a splash of vanilla! If you want peppermint hot chocolate, peppermint extract or peppermint oil go here instead of vanilla. This gives you a little bit of liquid to work with to mix everything together. It’ll still be pretty dry, but there’ll be some parts that’ll clump together from moisture.

Mm, paste.

Mm, paste.

Add a generous splash of milk, turn the heat down a little, and mix until it’s all one smooth thick paste. Then add the rest of the milk, however much you think you’ll want for the amount of hot chocolate you’re making. I think total for this was like three and a half cups? Maybe.

Keep stirring until it’s steaming hot – you don’t want to let it boil or the texture gets weird. Serve in your favorite mug!