By Judy Hevrdejs
5:35 PM EST, November 11, 2011
Chilly weather demands hot chocolate to warm to body and soul and chefs have been happily stirring up variations on the concept ever since the Spaniards returned to Europe with chocolate from Mexico. Moctezuma and friends revered cacao, had a god of cacao (Ek-Chuah), drank it bitter and drank it sweetened with honey, notes Ana M. de Benitez in her tiny book, “Pre-Hispanic Cooking.”
What they did not have were tiny marshmallows floating in a mug of the hot stuff. Nor these recipes. Not that we don’t like marshmallows, but these are decadent, rich and so wonderful on their own.
Rick Bayless, cookbook author, star of PBS-TV’s “Mexico: One Plate at a Time,” and the culinary guru behind Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and XOCO (where chocolate for cocoa is ground to order), might use a traditional molinillo (moh-leh-nee-oh) to foam the hot chocolate. For the rest of us, a blender or immersion blender works well too. He does, though, offer this caveat: “Frothy Mexican hot chocolate waits for no one.”
Rick Bayless’ Chocolate Mexicano
(Mexican Hot Chocolate)Combine 2 ½ cups milk or water and 1 cup (about 5 ounces) coarsely chopped Mexican chocolate, such as Ibarra, in a 2-quart saucepan; stir over medium heat until mixture is steaming hot and the chocolate more-or-less dissolved (there will still be small pieces). Pour into a Mexican chocolate pot or blender or use an immersion blender and tall pitcher. If using a blender, loosely cover or remove lid’s center piece to eliminate pressure build-up; blend until mixture is homogenous and foamy, about 30 seconds. Or use immersion blender in a tall pitcher; blend until foamy. Pour into cups. Serve immediately. Makes 3 cups or four 6-ounce servings.
If using the Mexican pot, put a wooden molinillo in the pot and begin whipping the chocolate by rolling the handle quickly back and forth between your palms. The movement is a little like rubbing your palms against each other to warm them in cold weather — only here the molinillo’s wooden handle is between them. After about 2 minutes of vigorous beating, dip a spoon into the mixture to make sure the chocolate has dissolved (they’ll always be a few bits of chocolate on the bottom) and the mixture is foamy.
Carole Bloom, pastry chef and the author of “Intensely Chocolate: 100 Scrumptious Recipes for True Chocolate Lovers” (John Wiley & Sons), offers several hot chocolate recipes, including this adaptation. But if you’re a fan of malted milkshakes or malted milk balls candy, this combination of dark chocolate and malted milk powder (available in many grocery stores) should appeal.
Carole Bloom's Hot Malted Milk Chocolate
Combine 3 cups heavy whipping cream and 1/2 cup whole milk in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste, stirring to blend. Reduce the heat to medium heat; add 1/2 cup plust 2 tablespoons sifted plain malted milk powder and 4 ounces dark chocolate finely chopped.