Calling for FROST this weekend – therefore I am calling for Hot Italian Sipping Chocolate!
Hot Chocolate – Kind of Mood!Read on and you will understand why!

When temperatures dip – this weekend one thing came to mind!, Lets start warming up friends and family with hot Italian sipping chocolate.

“It’s not like anything that comes from a powdered mix,” I took the inspiration for this hot chocolate from the classic cafés of Turin, Italy. “True sipping chocolate must be dark, thick, intense, complex and, like all good things in life, bittersweet.”The prep is simple, as the recipe contains only three basic ingredients: High-quality cocoa, milk and sugar. The real trick is finding the right cocoa powder because at this level of concentration any negative characteristics in the cocoa will be amplified, making the result less than stellar. I like to use organic cocoa from Costa Rica, which has a pure, intense chocolate flavor.

To make the cocoa, combine 2/3 cup cocoa and 1/3 cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Gradually add three cups of milk to the cocoa and sugar over low heat, mixing to avoid lumps. Be sure that the milk is heated but never reaches a boil. Continue mixing the chocolate on low heat until it is fully blended and thickens to a rich consistency.

Thick and potent, hot sipping chocolate is the equivalent of a coffee purist’s ultimate espresso. As such, this “adult” version of hot chocolate is meant to be savored slowly, in small portions (5 ounces or less). If the pure version doesn’t cure what ails you, here are a few classic variations that use this hot chocolate as a base.

Five Hot Chocolate Variations:

1. With whipped cream
“Whip some heavy cream (without sugar) and serve it in separate cup, which is the way it’s done in Turin. Leave the mixing and proportions to the end-user – no two people will consume them the same way.”

2. Marocchino
“Combine freshly brewed espresso and hot chocolate, with or without the addition of steamed milk.”

3. Bicerin
“Named after a bar by this name in Turin, this classic drink combines coffee, hot chocolate, brandy and cream. Making it is challenging because it combines very strong, complex elements; the cream is lightly whipped and is poured over the back of a spoon on top of the drink so that it floats on the top. Use one shot of brandy and two tablespoons of the lightly whipped cream. As you drink it, the cold cream balances some of the ferocious flavors.”

4. Hot gianduja
“If you can get your hands on hazelnut butter, add two teaspoons to a cup of hot chocolate, mix and enjoy this drink reminiscent of my favorite flavor of gelato.

For homemade hazelnut butter, I recommend going the regular nut butter recipe route: Toast hazelnuts until lightly golden. Remove the skins and grind in a food processor until it becomes a smooth paste. You might need to add a little oil (use a neutral oil like canola) to achieve a smooth consistency.”

5. Spicy hot chocolate
“Hot chocolate originated with the Maya civilization, who served it spiced with hot pepper. My personal preference for this recipe is habanero pepper. It is a weapon-grade pepper, so slice a very thin ring without any seeds, mix it carefully into a cup of hot chocolate, discard the pepper, then enjoy the burn.”

Hope this helps everyone as we may possibly see FROST this weekend!