Non-alcoholic, purely indulgent, hot chocolate as gift has endured the ages
Photography: Paulette Phlipot
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Mayan Hot Chocolate
2 cups boiling water
1 chile pepper, cut in half, seeds removed (with gloves)
5 cups light cream or whole or nonfat milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 to 2 cinnamon sticks
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate or 3 tablets Mexican chocolate cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
1 tablespoon almonds or hazelnuts, ground extra fine
• In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add chile pepper to boiling water. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup.
• Remove chile pepper; strain water and set aside.
• In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream or milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick until bubbles appear around the edge. Reduce heat to low; add chocolate and sugar or honey; whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted and sugar dissolves.
• Turn off heat; remove vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. Add chile-infused water, a little at a time, tasting to make sure the flavor isn’t too strong. If chocolate is too thick, thin with a little more milk.
• Serve in small cups and offer ground almonds or hazelnuts and whipped cream.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
2/3 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/8 of a vanilla bean
2/3 of a cinnamon stick
1/3 tsp. almond extract
• Combine milk, cream, cinnamon sticks and vanilla in a 1-quart stainless steel pot and bring mixture to a boil. Have prepared chocolate in a mixing bowl.
• Allow the heated liquid to steep (rest off the heat) for 5 minutes, then pour over the top of the chopped chocolate.
• Stir the chocolate mixture until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Pour the warm mixture through a strainer and it is ready to serve.
• Serve immediately or refrigerate.
• To reheat, place chocolate mixture in a 2-quart stainless steel pot on low heat—do not let sit, or it will burn. Stir mixture until warm. Immediately serve and place in 4-oz. portions with a dollop of slightly sweetened, softly-whipped cream and a light dusting of cinnamon.
Or, try it like this:
3 ounces (tablet or cone) Mexican chocolate or bittersweet chocolate
3 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
Miniature marshmallows, for serving
6 cinnamon sticks (preferably Mexican canela) for serving
• Using a sharp knife, break up the chocolate into smaller pieces.
• In a saucepan, combine the chopped chocolate, milk, sugar, and salt over medium-low flame. Heat and stir until chocolate is completely melted and milk is very hot, but not boiling, about 10 minutes.
• Remove from the heat and froth the chocolate milk with a mini whisk or molinillo. Divide the hot chocolate among big mugs, top each with a few marshmallows, and serve with the cinnamon sticks as stirrers.