Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Studio 5: Hot Chocolate around the world



Ok, hold your breath...are you ready for some chi-chi-poo-poo?  This is my sister-in-law's word for all things fancy and expensive.

I'm all in for saving money and making do with simple things, which often are the best anyway.  However, when it comes to chocolate, I will admit, I'm a bit of a snob.  You could probably blame this on my husband, who lived in Belgium and France or on my European connection (my parents are immigrants, but believe me, they didn't come here eating expensive chocolate, they were happy to get a banana!)

I don't drink wine, or coffee.  But I love cheese and chocolate.  The taste of all four of these foods are largely determined by where their ingredients are grown or in the case of cheese, pastured.  The tastes are rich, complex and tantalizing!

Having said all that...feel free to substitute your favorite chocolate in any or all of these recipes.  But if you're ever feeling like a splurge, go for my recommendations.

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Belgium, famous for old-world chocolate, serves the most intense Hot Chocolate.  Served in small quantities because it's so rich; basically cream & melted good quality chocolate.
 

Belgium Hot Chocolate
{ok, I have to admit...I toned this down a bit.  Even toned down though, it's still perfect in a little Espresso cup}

 2 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Half & Half
4 oz. real Belgium Bittersweet Chocolate (recommended: Cote D'Or)
2 oz. good quality Milk chocolate
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Melt chocolate slowly in milk.  Add Half & Half.  Heat, but do not bring to a boil.  Whisk until frothy.
Europeans don't have as sweet as tooth as Americans.  If needed, add a Tbsp of sugar.

Italian Hot Chocolate is like nothing I've ever had.  Thick & rich like a hot chocolate pudding.  Serve with a spoon!  This isn't as rich, so I like a dollop of whipped cream with it.

Italian Hot Chocolate

2 1/4 cups Whole Milk (or less fat milk will work as well)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 2 to 3 Tbsp sugar (adjust to your taste)
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. sea salt

Whisk all ingredients in pot over low heat until blended.  Continue to whisk occasionally until mixture comes to a boil, let simmer for a minute until thick.  Mixture will create a 'skin', so either serve right away or place plastic wrap over mixture and store in refrigerator until ready to reheat and serve.




Mexican Hot Chocolate
{cayenne pepper is what really sets this hot chocolate apart, but you can use your favorite hot pepper)

 2  cups Whole Milk (or less fat milk will work as well)
1 cup half & half
6 Tbsp brown sugar
4 1/2 oz. bittersweet good quality chocolate (recommended: American made Scharffen Berger)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (Mexican of course!)
1/8 tsp ground Nutmeg
Cayenne Pepper (to taste...start with a dash and go from there.  I like a pinch or two)
Cinnamon Sticks (if you don't use these, then add 1/8 tsp of ground Cinnamon, but don't you both as it will be too cinnamon-ee.

Melt chocolate slowly in milk until melted, whisking occasionally.  Heat, but don't boil.  Add rest of the ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed


Lastly, let's return home to the good ole' USA!  We may be new, but we are definitely creative!

When I first mentioned this segment to my friend Heather, she told me about these Hot Chocolate truffles.

Super cute and a great gift idea, so I included them in this segment.

I'm going to pass you along to Lizzie Mae Early, owner of Your cup of cake blog.  She did a great job with her step-by-step photos and I liked her recipe best.  I will say these do get messy, so be prepared.  Some recipes had you dip or brush the balls in a ganash and then into the toppings.  I prefer Lizzie's method or dipping directly into the toppings which the ball is still moist.

The candy cane worked best.  I struggled a bit with the mallow bits, but they sure are cute (and kind of hard to find...Walmart in South Jordan is where I finally found mine).

The one thing I did to change it up was in-bed a goodie into the center of the balls.  I also tried adding flavoring/syrup to the mixture for added flavor.  You'll have to play around with this, but I would suggest at least a 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract for a batch to get enough of a zing.

I embedded caramels, junior mints, mini peanut butter cups and malted balls.  This was fun to do and I kind of liked watching the truffle melt in my cup, looking for that center, but I don't think it added much to the flavor.  And I never got to really taste the caramel in the Hot chocolate, because once it melted down to it, I just gobbled it up...who can resist a slightly melted caramel I ask?

Happy cold weather friends...stay warm and have a cup!
 
 






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