Real Hot Chocolate

Serves 4

When temperatures dip, cravings for hot chocolate automatically rise. Sure, there are plenty of hot chocolate mixes available, but not only does making it from scratch taste so much better, the preparation process heightens the anticipation, making it an event guaranteed to have a sweet ending.

And, speaking of sweet, making your own hot chocolate gives you complete control over which sweetener to use and how much. Typical hot chocolate recipes rely on white sugar, but there is no reason you can't opt for honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, or even any of the darker sugars such as muscovedo or Sucanat™.

While basic recipes call for unsweetened 100% chocolate, who says you can't substitute any dark chocolate, 70% cacao and above, you might have hanging around for snacks? If it satisfies you for nibbling, when using it to make hot chocolate you won't even need to add more sweetener.

To gently melt the chocolate, use a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl that will fit on top of a saucepan. Put a couple inches depth of water in the bottom portion, bring the water to a boil, and then turn off the heat. Then put the pieces of chocolate and 1 cup of boiling water in the top of a double boiler, stirring it as it melts.

Then put the top portion with the melted chocolate over direct heat, heating the melted chocolate to the point it begins to foam. Then immediately remove it from the heat for a couple seconds and then return it to the heat and bring it to the point it begins to foam and remove it again, doing this procedure for total of 4 times.

Meanwhile, scald the milk (which facilitates the dissolving of sugars and fat) and then add the vanilla extract, sweetener, and the pinch of salt. Pour the milk combination into the melted chocolate and vigorously beat it with a wire whisk to thorough mix all the ingredients and make it a bit frothy.

Pour into mugs and savor!

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