This time of year, the cold air and brisk wind makes it hard to stay warm. Hot beverages really help do the trick; add some booze and you’ll forget you just came in from the cold…well, almost. A steaming nightcap of spiked hot chocolate is even better; it’s a simple and satisfying indulgence to end a long, cold day!
In Tuesday’s post, as part of our Chocolate Month series, I discussed my search for the world’s best hot chocolate. The mark of a good hot chocolate, in my opinion, is intensity of chocolate flavor. I find that a blend of cocoa powder and chopped solid chocolate produces the right flavor and texture. Typically at home, I avoid the decadent, but special occasions (such as “hey, it’s Thursday!”) call for a special hot chocolate. If you’re going to go, go all out.
Today, I’m sharing one of my two recipes for two very different versions of hot chocolate. We’ll start with the more indulgent variation spiked with liquor or liqueur. It’s adult and sophisticated, worthy of sharing with dinner or party guests – just scale up the proportions, as this recipe is for a single serving, and use a larger pot. You’ll add the alcohol just before serving, so it’s easy enough to omit for little ones or guests who don’t drink; you may want to increase the added sugar if you aren’t using liqueur. Vana Tallinn liqueur from Estonia is my favorite spiking agent of the moment – it has the depth of rum but with a hint of sugar and spice, perfect for winter. I have always loved the marriage of chocolate and raspberry, or chocolate and orange, so Chambord and Gran Marnier are elegant additions. If you prefer a more traditional spiking, try brandy or a spiced rum.
A brief word about milk: I do not recommend using nonfat (skim) milk in this version of hot chocolate, as the flavors just do not meld together as well as with at least a bit of milkfat. I recommend using lowfat (1%) or reduced fat (2%) milk instead; whole milk would be even better, but I do not miss the fat and extra calories with 2% milk. It is creamy enough to feel indulgent!
Spiked hot chocolate
- 1 cup (8 fluid oz./220 mL) milk
- 1 tbsp. cocoa powder (I prefer Ghiradelli)
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar (increase to 1 tbsp. if liqueur is omitted)
- 1 tbsp. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (60%-70% cacao is best), chopped OR baking chips/chunks
- 2 tbsp (1 oz; 3-4 cL) liqueur
In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat. When bubbles begin to form around the edges, whisk in the sugar to dissolve. Slowly whisk in cocoa powder and follow with the chopped chocolate. Remove from heat, stirring until the chocolate is melted and fully incorporated.
To serve, top with liqueur. Garnish with whipped cream and nutmeg, if desired.
Additionally, for more punch, add 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper with the cocoa powder for a “Mexican chocolate” variation.