WEEKEND COCKTAIL HOUR: Spicy Hot Chocolate : Tarcher/Penguin


For nearly all of its 3,000 year history, chocolate has been consumed as drink. The Mayas and Aztecs both traded with cocoa beans – such was their value. Those who could afford the beans used them to make a hot chocolate flavored with spices. Hot cocoa was so respected that:

– It was the champagne of society weddings and the drink was prohibited to commoners.
– They assumed it had magical powers. Children were often ‘baptized’ with cacao water.
– The Mayans has a cocoa god, and the drink was used in many of their rituals.
– A bride and groom would exchange it in their marriage ceremony.
– The Aztecs, who used to make an annual sacrifice of their most beautiful slave, would serve chocolate to the elected victim to temper his melancholy in the final week before his execution.

As today, the drink was best served frothy. To achieve this (for froth was considered a sign of quality), it was poured back and forth between two jars. This recipe for Spicy Hot Chocolate evokes these traditions and makes a comforting treat for a winter cocktail hour.

2 ¼ cups whole milk
2 to 4 tablespoons water
½ vanilla bean, split open
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch finely ground black pepper
Pinch ground anise
3 ½ ounces Pralus Trinidad Chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons sugar-free Scharffen Berger powdered chocolate
4 to 8 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons light cream

1. Heat the milk, water, vanilla bean, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, and anise in a saucepan over low heat until hot.
2. Add the chocolate and cocoa, whisking vigorously to prevent the chocolate from sticking to the pan and developing a burnt flavor.
3. Add 4 teaspoons sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the cream and wisk again. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if needed.
4. Remove from the heat and leave the chocolate to rest in a cool place for up to 45 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.
5. Return the chocolate to low heat, whisking in air to make it frothy, and heat until hot. Serve immediately.


Note: For the genuine experience, use exactly the kinds of chocolate and cocoa powder listed here. If you can’t find them, do try and replace them with quality alternatives (rather than supermarket brands.) It just won’t taste the same otherwise.

– Adapted from Chloe Doutre-Roussel’s The Chocolate Connoisseur, a compact guide packed with amazing stories, tasting notes for the world’s finest chocolates, history, myths, recipes, and “chocolate philosophy”.


Our mugs are the best for enjoy Hot Chocolate.


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