What if hot chocolate wasn’t just a drink but an event?
STORY BY ALYSSA SHULTIS
RECIPES BY ELLEN BOEKE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARSON DOWNING
PRODUCED BY SCOTT J. JOHNSON
FOOD STYLING BY CHARLIE WORTHINGTON
Imagine steamed milk in one hand, low-and-slow warmed chocolate and cream in the other, poured and melded together in a decadent, creamy drink the French call chocolat chaud. This particular method stills time and helps you fully sink into the present with the ones you love. Merci to the cafés in Paris for capturing joie de vivre in a cup and inspiring us all to see (and taste) the richness in front of us.
French Hot Chocolate
PREP: 15 minutes
MAKES: 2 servings
Heat 1 1/2 cups whole milk to steaming.
Pour 1 cup of the milk into a warmed creamer dish and set aside.
Note: To warm creamer dishes, fill them with hot water and let stand 10 minutes. Drain and wipe completely dry.
Combine the remaining 1/2 cup hot milk; 4 oz. high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped; 2 tsp. packed brown sugar; and 1⁄4 tsp. vanilla in a small saucepan.
Heat and whisk over medium-low until melted and smooth.
Pour into a second warmed creamer dish and set aside.
Place 1⁄2 cup heavy cream, 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, 1⁄4 tsp. vanilla, and a pinch sea salt in a medium bowl.
Beat with a mixer on high until soft peaks form (tips curl).
Makes 1 cup.
POUR, SIP, ENJOY
Take creamer dishes with the milk and the chocolate, and pour both at the same time into each cup.
Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate.
CINNAMON HOT CHOCOLATE
Prepare as directed, except add a cinnamon stick to the steamed milk. Heat gently and let steep 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick from milk. Continue as directed. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on whipped cream.
COCONUT HOT CHOCOLATE
Prepare as directed, except substitute canned unsweetened coconut milk for the whole milk. Sprinkle toasted coconut on whipped cream.
Prepare as directed, except stir 1/8 tsp. peppermint or almond extract into the steamed milk. Or add a pinch of cayenne pepper or dried chipotle chile to the chocolate mixture when melting. Serve with whipped cream.
I tried hot chocolate this way for the first time on a trip to Paris last year (took some serious focus, apparently!). It was such a beautiful picture of the way the city, in all its movement and buzz, also celebrates this intentional pause and the moment it creates. I’m inspired to try this ritual at home this season and see how it makes time together that much sweeter. —Joanna