As you know,
I have never had either coffee or tea in my life, a fact that I am confident
many of you have repressed.
friends, it seems an impossibility. How could you not drink coffee? Tea? Is it my religion, they ask? An allergy?
the above. My parents could not get me to drink milk, so they disguised it as
hot chocolate, thus addicting me to this elixir for life.
To this day -
and I see no changes in my future - I have cocoa every morning of the year.
People find this odd, and state confidently that cocoa is a winter beverage.
"C'mon!" I protest, "You drink hot coffee or scalding tea all
year long!" It's different, they say. But it's not.
I drink an
entire café-au-lait bowlful to start each day. It is my breakfast - full of
protein and chocolate happiness. It keeps me sated until noon, unless someone
asks me if I want a pastry, and then, of course, all bets are off.
Cocoa and hot
chocolate are very different beverages. Cocoa is less sweet and made from cocoa
powder, a little sugar, and milk - I use skim or 1%. Hot chocolate, by contrast,
is best made using the highest-quality bittersweet chocolate available, melted
lovingly into milk or cream. It can be made from skim milk, too, but why would
I tend to
save hot chocolate for special occasions, and use it more as a dessert. Its
richness calls for smaller amounts - doses, almost. Demitasse cups are the
recipe is, to me, the most exquisite of all hot chocolates. It is adapted from
one I found in Saveur magazine, and have tinkered with for almost 20 years. Markipedia
was fascinated by the geography of the ingredient list. I misread the caption
and thought the source was South American, to which Mark immediately said,
"No, this has to be Spanish Baroque." He was right. (It is hard
living with an encyclopedia.) The entire sprawling Spanish empire is found in
this little cup: chocolate, chile and vanilla from Central America, saffron from
the Mediterranean, milk and roses from Eurasia, cinnamon and sugar from
I keep my version of this recipe a secret for twenty years, but as it has
published origins, it is time to share it with all my friends. It makes a great
flavor base for panna cotta, or homemade truffles. Those concepts are MY
addition to the culinary world.
And it is
never too soon to plan for Valentine’s Day, is it?
and pinkies out!
Baroque Hot Chocolate
3 cups whole
1 chile de
bean, sliced lengthwise
dried culinary rose buds
best-quality bittersweet chocolate - about 70% cacao
milk in a medium saucepan, and add the cinnamon, chile, vanilla bean, saffron,
rose buds, and salt. Over medium heat, bring almost to a boil, then remove from
the heat, cover, and let steep 10 minutes.
break chocolate into small pieces and place in another medium saucepan,
preferably one with a good lip that pours easily. Strain the milk into the pan
with the chocolate, and place over medium-low heat, whisking, until the mixture
small demitasse or tea cups, and serve with immediately.
Serves 4. Notes on the china: The chocolate pot is English and was a gift from our friend Sue, and the red and gold demitasse cups, from John, hail from Bavaria. The rest, with the exception of the Monet blue and yellow plate (Limoges), are all saucers from a collection of beautiful teacups (English and Bavarian) that came from the estate of our friends' Lynn & Lee's Aunt Mary. The pitcher with the parrots (German) was a rare impulse purchase by Markipedia.