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One cold day, about twenty-eight years ago, my mother entered a coffee shop in Italy and ordered a hot chocolate. It was the first time she ordered one in Italy, since she had just moved there with little Casper, my brother. What she got surprised her; the cup was hot and steaming, but this was not hot chocolate, she thought. The consistency of whatever they had just served her was thick and almost not liquid anymore; it looked creamy and thick at the point she thought it was some sort of pudding.

Soon enough she realized that was just how the Italian hot chocolate is, and even sooner, just after taking the first sip, she had realized it was delicious.

Years went by and that same hot chocolate became a staple in our pantry during the cold winters. Basically it was what got us through the winter. One cup and you would feel alive again, no kidding.

Last night I was turning around in my bed, wondering why I hadn’t taken one more blanket for a cold night like this, and unwilling to get up and get it, I dreamt of that hot chocolate; warm and filling, it would have gotten me through the night just fine, no need for any blanket.

I woke up to a cold and dreary day, just one of those days chocolate is the solution. Therefore I not only made that wonderfully indulgent hot chocolate, but I also made some amazing chocolate and nuts pops, which really made my day brighter (they were so nice!).

Simple Hot Chocolate (very thick consistency) (for two).

250 ml milk

10 g cocoa powder

5-10 g sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)

10 g corn starch

In a small saucepan combine milk, cocoa powder and corn starch. Put on a low heat and, while constantly stirring, bring to a boil. Add sugar and keep on stirring until the consistency has reached the desired thickness. Serve with whipped cream, chocolate chips or ground hazelnuts.

Choco-Nuts Pops (makes 6)

20 g of mixed nuts

20 g dried cranberries (or any other berry)

140 g dark chocolate (70%+)

You will also need pop or ice cream sticks.

Place a baking sheet on a cutting board or any other flat surface. Mix nuts and berries and put place them on the baking sheet so that they form six small circles of the size you want your pops to be.

Place the sticks on top of the circles.

Place the chocolate in a bowl and melt it au-bain-marie or in the microwave. Make sure not to overheat it, so that the crystals in the chocolate won’t be destroyed (try to let the chocolate melt until there are just a few hard bits left, take off of the heat/out of the microwave and keep stirring until those lumps melt as well; like this you know your chocolate will not be too hot to set properly again).

Pour the chocolate over the nuts and the berries making sure to cover the sticks well. Allow to set. When you will be able to move the pops, you can decide to turn them over and pour a little more chocolate on the other side so that you can decorate them, if you like.

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