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Tempting Hot Chocolate

Warm up cold mornings with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

Creamy Hot Chocolate 

Tested with the Spanish chocolate Valor Chocolate a la Taza, this fast and easy recipe yielded a pretty cup of hot chocolate whose caressing texture lived up to its name.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup well-chilled heavy cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
4 oz. fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
2 cups whole milk

Preparation:

Using an electric mixer and a bowl, beat the cream with the sugar until it holds stiff peaks. Chop chocolate and reserve two teaspoons. In a small saucepan, heat the milk with the remaining chocolate over moderate heat, stirring, until it comes to a simmer. Pour hot chocolate into two large mugs and top with whipped cream and reserved chocolate.

Serves 2

--Gourmet Magazine

Moody's Hot Chocolate

Kathy Cooney, pastry chef at Moody's Bistro & Lounge in Truckee, Calif., created this unusually thick and intense version of hot chocolate. "It isn't served by the mugful, but more like an espresso with a spoonful of freshly whipped cream," she recommends. At the restaurant, she uses the Venezuelan chocolate El Rey Gran Saman.

"It is slightly more acidic and flowery than some domestic chocolates," she says. "It is a dessert by itself or with a fresh churro," she says of the hot chocolate it yields. People who prefer a thinner cup of hot chocolate can thin it with more water and then reheat it.

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 Tbsp. almond liqueur

Preparation:

Bring milk and 1/2 cup of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Turn off the heat. Meanwhile, combine the cinnamon stick, sugar and 1/4 cup of water in heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, allow sugar to caramelize as you swirl the pan. As it reaches a deep amber color, remove from the heat and slowly whisk in milk-water mixture. Return to low heat and gently stir until it is smooth. Whisk in melted chocolate. Heat until the edges start to bubble. Remove from the heat. Take out the cinnamon stick. Add the almond liqueur. Whip hot chocolate with immersion blender for a minute. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

New Mexican Hot Chocolate

Cinnamon and nutmeg spice up the flavor.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey
5 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
4 cups reduced-fat milk (2 percent)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preparation:

Combine first six ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk and vanilla extract, stirring constantly with a whisk. Heat to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around the edge, stirring with a whisk (do not boil).

Serves 8

--Cooking Light Magazine

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