Delhi is going through the peak of winter with a cool 12 degrees celsius (for those wondering what that is in Fahrenheit, Google it). Winters are wonderful in the city, the smog settles down making the air marginally breathable and, the mornings have a dense fog which feels enchanting, and a cool crisp air blows throughout the day. It’s one of the best times in the city and I love spending as much of it outside. This means waking up early in the morning (like at 4:30) and going for runs with my dad, eating lunch on the weekends in the balcony, and drinking warm drinks. While chai is a staple for any season, two other drinks that have popped up in my rolodex of recipes (and quite a few new entrants might I add), are hot chocolate and mulled wine.
Let's talks about hot chocolate. My first cups of this drink were always these pre-made packets of powder, sugar, and milk solids that you submerge in hot water. However, as my interest around making this drink increased, I started working on different variations. I began with adding the hot chocolate mixture to black coffee which had an amazing coffee flavor but didn't feel like hot chocolate anymore. I then cooked down a chocolate bar in hot water, red wine, and added brown sugar which made the whole drink a lot more syrupy and created complex flavors which worked well but wasn't actual hot chocolate. Then when I repatriated back, I had access to a lot more ingredients and the first month of joblessness is when I threw myself into a lot of cooking shows. I saw a recipe of a chocolate layered cake that used (among other things) dark chocolate, whole milk, nutmeg, and espresso powder. This is when I thought what if you deconstruct a chocolate cake into a drinkable mixture? Now for people who have made hot chocolate from scratch this recipe may not be anything new, but for the rest of my audience, I know that you’ll be learning some new things.
Boiling down whole milk gives the whole drink a thickness. I thought of using cream but my mother would smack me if I told her that what she’s drinking is made with 36% fat. Whole milk also works well because it prevents the drink from turning into a dessert that you would have after an expensive French meal. I add some espresso powder to increase the flavor, cocoa powder to intensify the chocolate density, a touch of salt to balance the sweetness, some vanilla essence, and nutmeg (love this spice and use it basically everywhere). Cook everything together and top it off with some fresh grated nutmeg; since its an aromatic and doesn't really taste like much but it smells amazing.
What you get with this recipe is a rich chocolate drink with a touch of salt, and a wonderful aroma. I have made this a number of times, adding something new like a dash of chili oil or crushing up some Altoids to give it a wonderful peppermint flavor. So try this recipe while I go back into the kitchen, this time with coconut milk! Happy Holidays <3
200 ml whole milk
50 gms dark chocolate
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
A pinch of salt
Freshly grated nutmeg
Begin to boil milk on low heat. Add the chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder, vanilla essence, and salt. Keep whisking until everything is mixed well.
Increase heat and let it come to a boil while still whisking.
Sieve through into your favorite mug and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.