The Perfect Hot Chocolate


































As some of you may know, winter is my least favourite season and I'm already counting the weeks until we move the clocks forward in Spring (it's nine in case you're wondering!) but the one thing I do like in winter is the comforting warmth of a freshly made hot chocolate. It's the ultimate indulgent drink and topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles it becomes heaven in a mug.

I've been looking at what goes into making the perfect hot chocolate from ingredients, recipe, mugs and toppings. I've also got some tips from the experts so by the end of this blog post you'll be ready to make the best hot chocolate you've ever had!

Ingredients

The vital ingredient in hot chocolate is obviously chocolate but what you mix with it is just as crucial. We've all tried the hot chocolate flavoured powders mixed with hot water (bleugh) but it just isn't real hot chocolate. For an authentic taste, real good quality chocolate should be melted with hot milk and as with all baking and cooking, the better quality ingredients, the better the taste. You can experiment with flavours too; orange, caramel and even chilli flavours all compliment hot chocolate wonderfully.

Equipment

A hand whisk is a great way to produce, light frothy milk for your hot chocolate. If you have a fancy coffee machine you might be lucky enough to have a milk frother but if not then a simple electric hand whisk will do the job.


















There are plenty out there in the shops but I like this retro inspired KitchenAid Artisan cordless hand blender, perfect for whisking your milk, and chopping and blending lots of other ingredients too, making it a really useful kitchen gadget.

Recipe

This traditional recipe from cottonandpearl.com is inspired from a trip to Prague and to me is the perfect hot chocolate recipe, just add sugar if you prefer it a little sweeter.

100g plain chocolate no less than 70% cocoa
150ml double cream
600ml whole milk
- Pop it all in a pan and stir while it all melts

Serve it with style

If you've gone to all that trouble of making a delicious chocolatey drink with quality ingredients and whisked your milk like an expert then it would be a shame to just get an old chipped mug out of your cupboard and serve it in that. Wouldn't it be better to serve it in a lovely cosy mug? I like this mug from Art Chateau (also main image at top)











I also love this Rosebud mug from Sophie Allport. Sophie Allport mugs are available in a standard size and a large size which is perfect for filling with whipped cream and marshmallows.












If you're making a larger quantity of hot chocolate how about serving it in a gorgeous pot like this vintage style coffee pot from cottonandpearl.com



















Toppings

For me, freshly whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles are the ultimate toppings to adorn your hot chocolate and marshmallows are another popular favourite. But how about trying something different? What about salted caramel sauce, chocolate chips, a chocolate truffle (let it slowly melt into the hot milk), mini oreos or even ice cream? I prefer the traditional extras but everyone's idea of a perfect hot chocolate might involve making it into more of a dessert that a drink, and why not!

Expert tips

Who better to ask about making the perfect hot chocolate that the chocolate experts themselves?

"The best tip I have is to use really good quality chocolate! I have a little Bodum milk frother and I put pieces of chocolate into hot water or hot milk and leave it for a few minutes, give it a gentle stir and then whizz. Delicious, frothy hot chocolate! Works in a blender too and better that way if you’re making for more than one." Jennifer Earle, Chocolate Ecstasy Tours

“We find the best hot chocolate is created when everything is steamed together, this then creates an intense chocolate flavour, with a smooth, silky consistency” Halva Bakery & Patisserie

My perfect hot chocolate

Well in conclusion, my perfect hot chocolate is made with good chocolate, frothy milk and a touch of cream, topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, served in a gorgeous mug and preferably sipped slowly while sitting in a big comfy chair wrapped in a blanket sat next to a fire (but maybe that's just a touch too indulgent!).


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