This past summer, I visited Anglina in Paris, a patisserie that specializes in – surprise! – French pastries. What they’re most famous for, though, is their intensely rich hot chocolate. This drink was like a molten chocolate river, thick and slow, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had (although L.A. Burdick’s does come pretty close). You can read all about my experience at Angelina here.
Since that fateful day, I’ve been itching to try making it myself. It tasted like pure, unadulterated chocolate in liquid form, which was everything I had always wanted hot cocoa to be.
I’m not ashamed to say that I still love the Nestle and Swiss Miss packets of cocoa (with marshmallows, duh). But it’s a purely nostalgic love, conjuring memories of distant childhood winters, when hot cocoa was the reward for coming in from snowball fights when the sun had finally settled into the horizon.
These days, I want the real thing. No faux-chocolate mixes, no watery drinks, and no cloyingly-sweet concoctions with lumps of powder that refuse to dissolve.
Angelina offers a solution. And while they sell a mix of their hot chocolate, I wanted to go the authentic and homemade route with my attempt. Most things are better that way.
Because it’s the holidays (and so far I’ve shown a lot of restraint in throwing up holiday cheer all over you), I made this into a mix that you can jar up and give away. Attach a tag with instructions (or just direct them here), and you’ve just given the gift of effortless hot chocolate. I don’t know about you, but if you gave me chocolate for Christmas, you’d have my undying love.
The recipe makes more than enough for two jars, so you can keep one all to yourself. And the mix takes all of two minutes to make – just chop the chocolate and process it with sugar. Done.
There are two key features of preparing this hot chocolate that make it the intense drink that it is: unsweetened chocolate, which adds a necessary depth of flavor, and cooking it twice. Returning the hot chocolate to the stove after it’s mixed together is crucial in achieving that thick, rich texture, and it allows the ingredients to better combine and bring out the best in each other. Don’t skip this step.
The recipe to prepare the hot chocolate using the mix below is enough for one enormous serving (as pictured), which is really more like 2-4 normal-person servings. It is mega-rich, so plan accordingly. Too thick for you? Just whisk in more milk afterwards.
The general rule for preparing this mix is a 1:1.25 ratio of mix to milk – so 1 cup mix to 1 1/4 cup milk, or 2 cups mix to 2 1/2 cups milk, etc. etc. Really want to gild the lily? Replace a few tablespoons of the milk with heavy cream. Don’t want to drink any milk at all? Use your favorite non-dairy milk – I’ve tried it with almond milk with great success.
With Christmas Eve right around the corner, you’re going to need a warm mug of this liquid chocolate in your hands – preferably topped with a mountain of whipped cream. That’s really the only way to live.
Intense European Hot Chocolate Mix
Makes about 2 3/4 cups of mix
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
dash of salt
To prepare one giant serving:
1 cup mix
1 1/4 cup milk (plus more to taste) – can also use a few tablespoons of heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
For the mix:
In a food processor or blender, process both chocolates with the sugar and salt until it becomes almost powdered – some larger bits of chocolate are okay. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Over medium heat, scald milk/heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the hot chocolate mix. When it’s completely melted and homogenous, return to a low heat for 2-4 minutes, whisking constantly until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and extra milk if you want a lighter drink. Serve with a generous portion of sweetened whipped cream.
(Tip: You can store leftover prepared hot chocolate in the fridge and be rewarded with a divine chocolate pudding of sorts. It’s just the gift that keeps on giving.)
Happy holidays, guys! I love you all.