Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Warm Drink for a Cold Day: Hot Chocolate with Cayenne Pepper

The cold front has hit us here in Southern California. I know that I can't complain knowing people are already experiencing their first snow falls (including my hometown), but still I'm not denying the chill factor here. Putting on a sweater, and then leggings, and then cozy socks, ...and I still am lacking something? I think it's time to be warmed by a good warm drink.

I am in love with hot chocolate. I've been my whole life, and I don't seem to grow out of it. Hot chocolate is warm, comforting, and reminiscent of growing up. I also love it with fresh whipped cream. This recipe was inspired by Alton Brown's instant hot chocolate. I think he hit the nail on the head with the powdered sugar and cayenne pepper.

I hope you enjoy this lovely drink, and I also hope your winter is getting off to a great start.

Hot Chocolate with Cayenne and Fresh Whipped Cream
Serves 1 tall glass or 2 small glasses Time: 12 minutes
Adapted from Alton Brown's Hot Cocoa

Hot Chocolate Ingredients:
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder (or more of course!)
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cornstarch
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tbsp whipping cream
1.5 cups milk, divided

Fresh Whipped Cream Ingredients:
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tsp powdered sugar

Hot Chocolate Process:
1) Whisk powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, cornstarch, and cayenne, in a medium pot. 

2) Turn heat to medium, and add whipping cream. Incorporate as well as you can, then add about 1/4 cup of the milk. Stir until well mixed. Once it is incorporated well, add another 1/4 cup milk.

3) Let the mixture thicken up for about 5 or 6 minutes or until thick and bubbly.

4) Add the rest of the milk and turn up the heat to medium-high. Let the milk heat through. Ready to serve.

Fresh Whipped Cream Process:
1) For the fresh whipped cream, combine cream, vanilla, and sugar. 

2) Beat until peaks form. If by hand, use a whisk and beat for about 5 minutes until cream is thickened and peaks are formed.

3) Dollop fresh whipped cream over the hot chocolate. Serve!

I used a tempered tall glass for these pictures. To do this let tap water run over your glass slowly increasing the heat. Let the glass be brought slowly up to the highest heat, so that it doesn't burst with temperature difference from the hot chocolate being poured in. Let the hot water set in the glass for a couple minutes, pour out, and dry thoroughly before pouring beverage in. It's also just a nice idea to serve a hot drink in a warmed glass or mug either way. I was taught this when I worked at the Rose Restaurant, so thank you Linda!

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