Xocolatl

Short post today, because the mercury dropped about 20 degrees today and the wind picked up about 20 miles an hour, and my commute today made me feel an awful lot like Winnie the Pooh being buffeted about in his nightie.  I’m just counting the minutes until it’s seemly for me to crawl into bed under my giant green fluffy blanket and sleep through the rest of this freakazoid day.  And I could talk about vegetables and seafood and olive oil and herbs and nice blood-sugar-pampering things until I’m blue in the face, but I’m just too drained, and I don’t have any good photos to share, and…

Look, I just want some damn hot chocolate.  Is that too much to ask?

I’ll try to justify this, though: I actually don’t like my hot chocolate super-sweet.  For my taste, the darker and more intense the chocolate, the better.  I don’t always get my way, of course–I’m dating a man who thinks nothing of putting a quarter-cup of sugar in a cup of tea–but when I’m making hot chocolate, from scratch, for my own tastes, I skimp pretty aggressively on the sweet stuff.  (I blame the marshmallows on Sam.  He’s a bad influence.)

Where I skimp on the sugar, though, I like to splurge a bit on the milkfat.  I’m usually a 1% girl–anything else just tastes too rich straight out of the glass–but when it comes to hot chocolate, I like to bump up to 2%.  The extra boost of fat makes for a thicker, creamier, more luxurious drink, and nicely balances the bare minimum of sweetness.  So I’d say, if you’re a skim-milk drinker, go for the 1%.  If you’re a 2% fan, try whole milk.  If you drink whole milk on the regular…well, I’ll look the other way.

Of course, since I’m a tinkerer, I rarely make straight-up hot chocolate.  Why would you, when our venerable southern neighbors have been adding chili, cinnamon and almonds for eons?  Eaghghghghghgh drool.

I think it’s bedtime.

Mexican Hot Chocolate (serves 2-4, depending on how greedy you are)

1 pint (4 cups) milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of cayenne pepper
Sugar to taste (I start with a teaspoon and work my way up)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)

In a saucepan, heat the milk just until wisps of steam start to come off the surface.  Add all other ingredients and whisk until well-incorporated.  Ladle into mugs, and claim the nicest-looking one.  Warm your hands on your mug, and sip slowly.  Whipped cream and mini-marshmallows are not amiss.

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