Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a throng of heart-warming hot drinks to boost the Christmas spirit (spirit being the operative word; as my tipple of choice!) At a party, you should have something for everyone, and my favourite indulgence is most certainly a crowd pleaser – especially with a little tot of booze!
But you can also enjoy this divine beverage as a solitary treat, after a long day’s grafting in the workshop. More often than not, this is how Mr C and I resume our evenings; a roaring fire, a pair of cosy sheepskin slippers and a steaming mug of Hot Chocolate. As it’s only fair to share the joy, this is how I make my Perfect Hot Chocolate.
The Perfect Hot Chocolate
(Serves 2 frazzled folks or 4 little helpers)
500ml whole milk
125g good quality dark chocolate (60% or 70% cocoa solids), grated or finely chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp runny honey or soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp Armagnac or Brandy (omit the booze if serving to little helpers)
50ml double cream, softly whipped or squirty cream (optional)
10 large marshmallows
2 extra squares of chocolate (for grating on top)
Preheat the oven to 70°C and pop in your mugs to warm through.
If you opt for softly whipped cream as a topping, pour the double cream into a large mixing bowl and gently whisk the cream, till it thickens slightly and holds a soft peak.
Pour the milk into a small saucepan off the heat, add the salt, cinnamon stick and the honey or light brown sugar (if using). Place the saucepan over a low heat and allow it to gentle come to a simmer, till the salt and honey or sugar has dissolved. Do not over heat the milk – it should not boil!
Turn the heat to the lowest setting, add the dark chocolate pieces and gently stir into the warm milk with a wooden spoon till completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and fish out the cinnamon stick. Gently whisk in the vanilla extract and the Armagnac or Brandy (if desired).
Retrieve the warm mugs from the oven, pop a few marshmallows in the bottom of each and pour the hot chocolate over the top. Finish with a dollop of the softly whipped cream or squirty cream (for ease), plus a final grating of delicious chocolate.