Winter in New England can be a chilly affair. In the frozen depths of January, there is little I want more than a mug of hot chocolate, a good book, and a blanket.
Hot chocolate is one of the first things I can remember making on my own; I felt so clever to mix Swiss Miss with scalded milk rather than boiling water. This recipe I have created by trial and error; I find it is a happy medium between thick, incredibly rich hot chocolate made solely from milk and chopped chocolate, and the comfort of the predictable Swiss Miss mix.
Now, I need to confess something here and now; I do not like dark chocolate. I have the palate of a child when it comes to chocolate; the darker, the more bitter to me and my tongue rebels. I greatly enjoy the creamy, melting sweetness of good milk chocolate. I do have an open mind, however, and am trying to learn to appreciate the complexity of dark chocolate. Black coffee and I are friends, so I hope that someday you will see me posting a recipe here for a dark chocolate tart.
In this recipe, I would use milk chocolate chips if I were making hot chocolate for myself (similarly, I use milk chocolate chips in my chocolate chip cookie recipe; semi-sweet is even too much for me). However, you may use semi-sweet or dark chocolate, whatever your preference.
I very much like the addition of almond extract to my hot chocolate; it brings me right back to my childhood. It is optional however, though I do urge you to try it at least once.
1 cup whole milk
1 cup light cream
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 milk powder (I use whole milk, but non-fat will work)
3 tablespoons sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
Combine the milk, cream, espresso powder, cocoa powder, milk powder and sugar in a saucepan. Over medium low heat, whisk ingredients together until the mixture is fully combined and it is simmering. Turn off the heat. Add in your extracts and chocolate. Leave for 2 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt, then whisk well until everything is combined. Serve.