As I write this, I'm listening to the sound of icicles fall from the roof and plunge to the ground. It's not a sound I'm used to hearing around these parts. We're coming off of a pretty huge winter storm for Kentucky, several inches of snow and ice. Enough to close the schools for two weeks!
I am in no way complaining. I grew up in northeast Ohio, in the snow belt, and I really miss a good snow like this. Plus, I was perfectly warm and safe in my home for the duration. The people of Texas weren't as lucky. God Bless Texas!
A month or so ago, Deb and I chose Hot Chocolate Celebration for this week's theme at our cooking club, I Heart Cooking Clubs. Innocently enough, we thought it would be a good time to enjoy hot cocoa simply because it's always so cold in February. Little did we know that Snowmageddon 2021 was coming! It ended up being the perfect time for a warm and comforting cup of hot chocolate.
Ina's hot chocolate is delicious. I mean I knew it would be. Of course, I altered the recipe somewhat because in typical Ina fashion it was a little over the top. Ina uses whole milk and half and half and two kinds of chocolate: bittersweet and milk chocolate. She flavors the hot chocolate with vanilla extract, sugar, coffee, and then garnishes the hot cocoa with a vanilla bean and/or a cinnamon stick.
I was okay with the whole milk and half and half since this is my one and only splurge for the week. I was okay with the two chocolates and the vanilla extract. In truth, I was okay with all of it except the coffee, because truthfully I don't care for coffee and never have. But then I added the vanilla beans to my cart and realized they were $9.99 a piece! Nope, not okay with a $10+ cup of hot chocolate. Sorry, Ina.
So, I changed the recipe to suit my needs and it basically amounts to whole milk, half and half, bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, sugar and vanilla extract. You know what? It was thick and creamy and oh so delicious. I didn't even miss the $10 vanilla bean garnish. I ended up garnishing it with a healthy dose of whipped cream and grated chocolate, which I think is a much better garnish than a vanilla bean.
Of course, I had to drink my hot chocolate in my one and only coffee mug that I inherited from my Aunt Jenny, my mom's sister. Aunt Jenny was my idol and funny enough, she never swore, always saying "oh sugar" when something went wrong or she got upset. I'm not entirely sure how she ended up with this mug, but I do love it.
Adapted from Food Network
Recipe by Ina Garten
2-1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups half and half
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder*
4 to 5 vanilla beans or cinnamon sticks, for garnish*
Heat the milk and half and half in a saucepan on medium heat to just below the simmering point. Remove the pan from the heat and add both chocolates. When the chocolates are melted, add the sugar, vanilla extract, and espresso and whisk vigorously. Reheat gently and serve immediately. Use a vanilla bean or cinnamon stick to garnish each serving.