Hot chocolate on a cold, winter night
NATCHITOCHES, La., Dec. 22, 2015 – Much of the eastern part of America is set for a warm and balmy Christmas, weather better for piña coladas than for hot chocolate.
But it will get cold eventually, and when it does, you might want to serve hot chocolate to a crowd of holiday revelers.
This recipe is modified from a recipe at howsweeteats.com. It is simplicity itself:
4 13-ounce cans full-fat coconut milk
2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
2 cups whole milk
12 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped (I use Ghirardelli)
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (natural cocoa doesn’t taste as good with this recipe)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coconut extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whisk the coconut milk, condensed milk and whole milk together in a crockpot. Whisk in the extracts, salt and cocoa powder, then add your chocolate. Set the crockpot to low and let it all heat for two hours, whisking often to keep it smooth. When it’s hot and the chocolate is smoothly melted and distributed throughout the hot chocolate, serve in small mugs and top with whipped cream, marshmallows or flaked coconut.
The original recipe leaves out the whole milk, and that’s the way I made it the first time. I took a sip, and it was delicious. “Perfect,” I thought.
By the time I was a quarter of the way through it, though, I was turning green and perspiring profusely. The onslaught of fat was overwhelming. I might as well have been drinking melted chocolate. When I put the leftover in a pitcher and put it in the refrigerator, it set up like pudding. (Hmm, pudding.)
I reheated it with milk to cut it, and while it was still very rich, I could make my way through a full mug. If you want to leave out the milk, cut the chocolate to eight ounces and serve it in demitasse glasses.
I tried an another modified version at the request of my daughter, who wanted peppermint in her hot chocolate. I think the combination of coconut and peppermint is disgusting. If you like it, I’m not judging, but I changed the above recipe by leaving out the coconut milk, coconut extract, and whole milk and instead used a quart of heavy cream. I also cut the chocolate to 8 ounces. Then I added a half-teaspoon of peppermint extract.
This version was less rich than the original recipe, but still pretty potent. My daughter liked it more; I prefer it made with coconut milk.
If you want to make this in a large pot on your stovetop, it will work just fine. Just be careful to watch it and stir frequently to keep it smooth. The recipe is easily scaled up or down, as you like. If you serve this at a party, be sure to label it. I served it at a party this year after it was a big hit last year, and some people mistook it for gravy.
Fortunately most people put barbecue sauce on their brisket rather than gravy, but a couple of people got a taste combination they didn’t expect.