Hot chocolate truly is the ultimate summer drink.
No... that’s not a typo. Historically, hot chocolate’s beginnings can be traced back to the ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations of balmy Mexico.
Food historians believed the Mayans drank the beverage both hot and cold, without sugar but with the addition of chile and spices. Xocolatl, as it was called, was considered an excellent medicinal drink, especially for stomach ailments.
Explorers discovered the drink and brought it back to Europe where it evolved into the sugary, rich libation we know and love today... one served mostly during the winter months.
In France, chocolat chaud is much thicker than the beverage we know as "hot chocolate" in the U.S. It is prepared by melting bittersweet chocolate into warm milk or cream, followed by a quick spin in the blender for a frothy consistency.
Spain serves an almost pudding-like version, with fried churros alongside for dipping. Hot chocolate continues to find popularity in Mexico, often with the addition of cinnamon or spicy chile.
Hot chocolate differs from hot cocoa in the ingredients: melted chocolate vs. cocoa powder.
This time of year, hot chocolate becomes a daily pursuit for my children. They want a portable mug of the rich, creamy drink to sip as I drive them to school; and it’s their beverage of choice after hitting the ski slopes on the weekends.
Imagine their delight this past week when I recruited them as taste judges for my test kitchen to find our preferred hot chocolate recipe. I tested both cocoa and chocolate recipes, expecting to find that a French recipe with Valrhona chocolate would prove to be our favorite.
The blue-ribbon winner for our family was my adaptation of a recipe from Chef Joe Calderone of Serendipity 3 in New York City, which is famous for it’s popular menu item—Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate.
We found this hot cocoa—which includes a blend of several cocoa powders—delicious served either hot or frozen, especially with the addition of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
The recipe is a snap to prepare, and I’ve adapted the recipe in order to make a large batch to keep on hand throughout the winter... or summer.
Now hot chocolate truly is the ultimate drink no matter what time of year.
Perfect Cocoa Mix
adapted from Joe Calderone
makes approximately 24 cups of cocoa
2 cups of evaporated instant dry milk
2 cups of granulated sugar
3/4 cup Ghiradelli cocoa powder
6 tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa powder
6 tablespoons dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container.
Frozen Hot Chocolate
adapted from Joe Calderone
1 cup Perfect Cocoa Mix
3 cups ice
1 cup milk
Blend all the ingredients together in an electric blender until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour equally into 4 short glasses or 2 tall glasses. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings if desired.
2 cups milk, or a combination of both milk and water
1/2 cup Perfect Cocoa Mix
Heat the milk in a saucepan over high heat until it starts to foam and simmer. Lower the flame to low and whisk in the cocoa mix. Whisk until well blended and frothy, about 20-30 seconds. Pour equally into two mugs, and serve with marshmallows or whipped cream.