Even if my daughter hadn’t just celebrated her 14th birthday, I’d know it was February. There is no other month that denies us light like this one. I’m not saying the sun never shines – it did, last week, for about 15 minutes. But for the past few days, the grey is almost overwhelming.
What does this mean? Hot chocolate, of course! It’s a great antidote to cold and grey.
I make it every morning anyway, for my daughter, because she is French. French children expect hot chocolate in the mornings, because they have that innate knowledge that it’s good for them, and helps their mood. Sometimes I make it at goûter (snack) time, too, for warmth and for courage (to finish her homework). There is something about its rich, creamy character that cheers her right up, and sends her right back to her desk!
It’s easy to make delicious hot chocolate. Use good, semi-sweet chocolate and great milk. I use raw milk from a nearby farm. You may not find that, so use the best milk you can find. Then, go slow as you heat it together with the chocolate, vanilla and salt. You don’t want the milk to boil.
Here is my recipe. I guarantee it makes the best hot chocolate this side of Angelina’s, in Paris (226 rue de Rivoli, +22.214.171.124.82.00).
Hot Chocolate/Chocolat Chaud – Makes 1 steaming bowlful!
4 squares of top-quality semi-sweet chocolate (about 1/2 ounce;15g)
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch fine sea salt
1. Place the chocolate and the milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the vanilla, and as the chocolate begins to melt, whisk it into the milk, which should come to a lively simmer, not a boil.
Whisk in the salt, and continue whisking as the chocolate heats up and becomes foamy. When the chocolate is completely melted into the milk, remove the pan from the heat and whisk the hot chocolate until it is very foamy.
Then pour right into a bowl. Let it cool a minute or two, so you don’t burn your tongue! Bon Appétit!