One of the annual traditions in our household is putting up the Christmas decorations on the first weekend in December – this is accompanied by lots of steaming hot chocolate and, of course, homemade gingerbread biscuits.
I fully admit that I am a bit of a Hot Chocolate perfectionist. So often, when I order the ‘Special Hot Chocolate’ on a menu I find myself disappointed – it’s always either not hot enough, not thick enough, not creamy enough or the worst crime, just not chocolaty enough!
This has led to a multitude of experiments at home, trying everything from Spanish recipes, to cocoa powder based recipes with cream and even butter, custard based recipes and, of course, all the brands available at both the supermarkets and delis.
I finally concluded that Jersey milk and real chocolate makes the best and simplest Hot Chocolate – perhaps with the addition of a glug of Baileys or rum for the grown-ups, and there are no end of small additions to make my basic Hot Chocolate extremely festive and child friendly. Winter without Hot Chocolate is like Christmas without Santa, and when the colder weather comes, there’s nothing more satisfying than making a real ritual out of its preparation.
50g of good chocolate (dark or milk or even white)
150ml jersey milk
I make mine in a Pyrex bowl over a pan of simmering water, combing the ingredients with a small whisk, never allowing the bowl to come into contact with the water. This creates the most indulgent drink, patience is the key here, slow and steady wins the chocolate race.
This is a very rich drink so serve in small cups with your choice from the following toppings and additions:
Whipped cream and grated chocolate
A couple of drops of peppermint extract, whipped cream and a little crushed stripy candy cane
1/4 tsp cinnamon per serving
1/4 tsp ginger per serving
A couple of drops almond extract, cream and toasted almonds
Whipped cream and crushed smarties
marshmallows, drizzled with warm chocolate sauce
Whipped cream and drizzle of warmed salted caramel sauce
Vanilla extract and a grating of nutmeg
A tablespoon of your choice of liqueur per serving, some of my favourites include:
Tia Maria, whipped cream and crushed coffee beans is delicious
Cointreau, cream and grated Terry’s Chocolate Orange
Baileys, whipped cream and chocolate flake
Whisky and a sprinkle of ginger
Amaretto, cream and crushed Amaretti biscuits