The art of making hot chocolate is one that I do not take lightly. You may be out for lunch, or at a friend’s house and foolishly accept a cup of chocolately joy. “What’s the worst that could happen” you think, “Hot chocolate’s hot chocolate I’ll be happy with what ever I get” and then it comes to you; this watery brown mess of artificial sugar that was, you guessed it, made only on water. The shame, the horror. Hot chocolate made on water.
I am something of a hot chocolate snob. I was raised with hot chocolate of a very high standard from a very young age and have spent years experimenting and testing out various cocoa beverages around the globe. All hot chocolates are different and people have different tastes, but there are a few things you should try and a few things you should absolutely never do.
I feel the first is obvious, don’t make water based hot chocolate. This is only acceptable if you are a fan of dark chocolate to begin with. A bock of 100% good quality cocoa grated into boiling water with a hint of chili powder can be amazing, but this is not the sweet chocolaty beverage most people associate with hot chocolate but it is still amazing. In conclusion, water based hot chocolates shouldn’t only be done with good quality and un-sweet ingredients.
The ratios when making hot chocolate with unsweetened cocoa powder is close to impossible to get correct so I eventually caved and resorted to using ready mix hot chocolates to avoid having to add sugar, sometimes it feels like cheating but then I taste that sweet beautiful drink and I know its not in vain. Green & Blacks do a really nice hot chocolate range (the orange one is yummy!) but Cadburys is your standard faithful drinking chocolate mix. Try and stay away from the ridiculously gimmicky ones (Of course there’s no shame in trying that new Wisp hot chocolate!) they tend to taste overly artificial.
I find the best is one-third water, one-third milk and one-third cream, this way it’s nice and creamy without being too sickening. If making for loads of people you’re best doing it the only fashioned way (on a stove) but sometimes you may have to resort to using a microwave because… well… it’s easier (even if it may give you a tail and other mutations), either way, you watch that bad boy like a hawk! NOTHING is worse than having your hot chocolate explode and having to wash the crevices of the microwave (ok… maybe a few things are worse but it’s still pretty nasty).
Experiment with your own secret ingredients (Mine’s hazelnut syrup), maybe mint? Vanilla? GO CRAZY! And, if you want something extra special, melt a square of your favorite chocolate bar in at the end. Simply delicious.
Hot Chocolate is probably one of the more complex of the hot beverages. Yes, tea and coffee follow certain rules, but they are task drinks that can be easily done if the basic instructions are followed (e.g. never ever microwave tea) but hot chocolate is different, making hot chocolate isn’t a skill, it’s an art form. Never make hot chocolate if you are not in the correct state of mind, love and care need to go in to each cup. Take your time making and drinking it and understand the care that must go in when others are making it more you and be patient.
So go out and experiment yourself! Come up with your own secret touches to making mouth-watering amazing drinks. Have you’re friends pupils dilate as they taste all the love you put into their drink, after all, the only way to really win at hot chocolate is to really care.