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Decadent Hot Chocolate

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Decadent Hot Chocolate

Decadent Hot Chocolate

This hot chocolate is the perfect treat for a cold winter's day. The rich chocolaty flavor comes from using good-quality chocolate rather than cocoa powder, and a vanilla bean infuses it with an intense vanilla flavor. Serve it warm mugs topped with a some lightly sweetened whipped cream and a dusting of ground cinnamon or grated chocolate.

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups whole or low-fat milk, or plain or vanilla soymilk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (see Recipe Notes), or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preparation:

1. Pour the 1/2 cup of water into a medium saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Add the chocolate, remove from the heat, and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. In another medium saucepan, combine the milk and the vanilla bean. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until bubbles start to appear around the edge. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove the vanilla bean, and scrape the seeds from the bean into the hot milk, then carefully whisk in the sugar, cinnamon and salt.

3. Pour the hot milk into the melted chocolate mixture, and whisk until smooth. Pour the hot chocolate into warm mugs and garnish with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Serve right away.

Recipe Notes

• Vanilla beans add a more intense vanilla flavor to recipes. Look for beans that are about 5 to 7 inches long, plump, and have very dark brown skin. They should feel moist and supple—not dry and brittle.
• To use the whole vanilla bean in this recipe, first split it half lengthwise. To do this, use the tip of a paring knife and poke a hole in the top and slide of the bean, then slide it down to split it in half lengthwise. Throw both split pod and beans into the pot, and let it steep to infuse flavor. Then remove the pod, and open it with the knife tip and scrape the seeds from the pod with the blade.
• To store vanilla beans, wrap them in foil, and seal them in a zip-top bag. If they are left out in the air, they will become dry and brittle. The vanilla beans will keep this way for 2 to 3 months.
• Vanilla beans are especially good for infusing liquids with vanilla flavor, such as when making custards, or recipes like this Hot Chocolate. They are also good added to your vanilla extract or a jar of vodka.
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