I don’t know about you, but I’ve been thinking about hot chocolate for about two months now and more so in the last couple of weeks. The only problem is that I’m always inevitably disappointed with the hot chocolate that I order or make. These days I can even tell when a mocha has been made with a packet of hot chocolate mix or made the right way. (For the record, there is almost no coffee shop out there that makes a decent mocha much less makes it the right way.)
I have fond memories of childhood when I would go to the grocery store with my dad to buy hot chocolate. Back then being fancy was getting the packets of hot chocolate with the marshmallows in it. Don’t ask me why I liked those dried up crusty tiny marshmallows, but when you’re a kid you have some weird predilections.
Now that I’m older and my eating style has changed, I don’t really like packet hot chocolate (is it me, or is it just not that good anymore??) much less those teeny tiny dried up white chunks they tell you are marshmallows. (I’ll always have fond memories from childhood, but please keep those things away from me so they don’t ruin my warm, fuzzy memories…thank you.) The few times I tried hot chocolate as an adult, I found it to be watery and gross. Why do people drink that powdered nonsense??
I want a thick, creamy, and decadent hot chocolate. And decadent and tasty is what I got once chilly night in Berlin in a cafe in back corner of an alleyway somewhere. (Alleys are not the sketchy narrow places that Americans think of…or maybe it’s just the New Yorker in me that thinks of alleyways as dark, scary, and usually filled with dumpsters and odd bits of trash being blown about.) It was quite a pleasant cobblestoned cafe before I knew anything about drinking beyond a couple sips of wine and beer. I was cold and the amaretto hot chocolate caught my eye. I didn’t want any of the coffees because I knew that would keep me up past my bed time and possibly make me a crazy person.
Now, that amaretto hot chocolate remains in my mind one of the best food/drink experience of my life. (I keep a mental list of these things.) Warm and comforting with the taste of amaretto laced through, I never wanted to stop drinking that hot chocolate or leave that cafe. Well, leave I did and I’ve been craving that kind of hot chocolate ever since.
With thoughts of hot chocolate running through my head and spending the better part of this past weekend in bed due to a nasty cold, I decided I needed some cheering up and googled hot chocolate. Then I thought, I want to amp that hot chocolate up and looked up rum laced hot chocolate. I’d have preferred amaretto, but I don’t have any and I’m trying to cut my spending down and not buy anything that I don’t absolutely need. (A difficult proposition because I love wandering around my local co-op and grocery store and finding new and interesting things to try.)
What I found was this: Rum Hot Chocolate Recipe. I had heard of Chef Marcus Samuelsson a while ago (probably on TV) and not only am I hoping that I will one day be lucky enough to eat something that he has created, I love the name of his restaurant – Red Rooster Harlem. Anyway, I digress. The reason I chose his recipe to try is because he uses coconut milk in his recipe. (Full disclosure, I have some left over coconut milk in the fridge that I wanted to use.)
As much as it would have been lovely to use a real stick of cinnamon, a real vanilla bean, and a freshly grated whole nutmeg, those were not at my disposal, so I made what you might call the poor woman’s version of Chef Samuelsson’s rum hot chocolate. I used the powdered cinnamon and nutmeg and the vanilla extract from my cabinet. I also used the heavy whipping cream that I had instead of whole milk. Milk and I haven’t really gotten along in a while and I wasn’t about to go out and buy some. Oh and the chocolate…I used whatever chocolate I had around.
Verdict: Even though my version is the poor person’s version, this hot chocolate is amazing. I think the coconut milk is key. It’s something like this that shows the true genius of a famous chef. I’m pretty sure a rum-free version would be just as good. Since I have coconut milk left, I think I’ll be drinking a few more cups of this.
It’s cold out, go make yourself some - Rum Hot Chocolate Recipe.