As a general rule, drinking chocolate is made with hot milk and chocolate rather than cocoa. True hot chocolate is usually made with cocoa and hot water and is sweetened, although chocolate can be added too. Obviously, there are many variations and there’s been a blurring of the boundaries since the Mayans first enjoyed a form of hot chocolate as a medicinal drink way back in 300-600AD.
In my ultimate drinking chocolate, I use full-fat milk and a half-and-half mixture of dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) and milk chocolate (around 40% cocoa solids) and a spoonful of cocoa powder to make a rich, but not bitter, drink. If you’d prefer a more complex mixture, add the full weight of dark chocolate, but you may wish to add a dash of sugar to take the edge off.
Ultimate drinking chocolate ingredients
- 650ml (approx 1 ¼ pts) milk
- 100g (4oz) chopped dark chocolate
- 100g (4oz) chopped milk chocolate
- 1 tbs cocoa powder
- 1 vanilla pod or a few drops vanilla essence (optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- 1 strip pared orange skin (optional)
- Mini marshmallows (optional)
- Whipped cream (optional)
Bear in mind that this is a rich drink and quantities are on the dainty side.
Heat the milk to scalding point in a small saucepan. To flavour the milk and add an extra dimension to your finished drink, remove the pan from the heat and add either a split vanilla bean and its scraped out seeds or a few drops of vanilla extract, or a cinnamon stick or even a large strip of pared orange zest, and leave to steep for 10 minutes (simply omit this infusing step for a pure chocolate flavour).
Strain the milk, if necessary, and return a few tablespoons to the pan with 100g (4oz) each of chopped dark and milk chocolate and a tablespoon of cocoa powder, setting it over a low heat and stirring to form a smooth paste.
Gradually whisk in the remaining milk to form a smooth, frothy mixture and heat until steaming. Divide between small mugs and, if you like, finish each with a few mini marshmallows and/or a spoonful of softly whipped cream or a few chocolate shavings.
Experiment to find your ultimate recipe, tweaking the variations above to taste; you’ll find different chocolate varieties make a real difference.