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>Heavenly Hot Chocolate!

Posted on January 12, 2010 by Glutenfreeda

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Besides chicken noodle soup I can’t think of many things that warm the soul more than hot chocolate! There are many different versions of hot chocolate. Slight modifications can add a wonderful touch to your basic cup of hot chocolate. Ultimately the secret to a great cup of hot chocolate lies in the quality of your chocolate…since chocolate is the star in this winter drink make sure you use a good one! Some of our favorite chocolates are Valhora, Lindt, and Scharffen Berger.

Here are some of our all time favorites:

Basic Hot Chocolate:

* 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
* 1 pint milk
* Pinch of cinnamon
* A few grates of nutmeg
* Whipped Cream or Marshmallows

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over hot water. Stir in the cream. Heat to just the boiling point, stirring constantly. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve in 8-ounce cups and dollop whipped cream or marshmallows. (Serves 4)

Hot Chocolate with Real Vanilla:

* 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
* 2/3 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/2 cup water
* pinch of salt
* 3 cups milk
* 1-1/2 cups half-n-half
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a tip of a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into a food processor (save the bean for later use). Add the sugar to the food processor and process for about 20 seconds. Transfer 3 tablespoons of the “vanilla sugar” to a small bowl.

Transfer the remaining “vanilla sugar” from the food processor to a heavy saucepan. Add the cocoa powder, _ cup water and salt and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Whisk in the milk and half-n-half. Add the reserved vanilla bean; bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Discard the vanilla bean.

Beat the cream and the reserved 3 tablespoons of “vanilla sugar” in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Divide the hot chocolate among 6 mugs and top with the vanilla whipped cream. (Serves 6)

Mexican Hot Chocolate:

* 4 cups milk
* 3 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
* 30 whole cloves
* 1 teaspoon aniseed
* 5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
* 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
* 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed

Bring milk and spices to a simmer in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the chocolate, cocoa and sugar. Whisk until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and let steep for 45 minutes. Bring the hot chocolate to a low simmer. Strain into 4 mugs. (Serves 4)

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