We are in the midst of winter in the UK, but you wouldn’t know it. As of mid-January, we have barely had a frost and I can still wear my summer shoes (one of the up-sides!). I even saw daffodils – the colourful harbinger of spring – coming up yesterday, one just about to bloom its bright yellow flowers. This is not right.
But I must say it made my walk in the park a little more pleasant. More time to linger and take photos of the fading light without freezing my toes. A beautiful park it was too, especially when lit with the dramatic side lighting of an afternoon winter sun.
And more time to marvel at southern England’s brightest new resident bird, the parakeet, filling the dark, bare winter trees with their luminous green.
The refreshment available, however, left a lot to be desired. Pre-baked factory waffles wrapped in plastic, coffee drawn from a machine with the touch of a single button, ‘hot chocolate’ made with vegetable fat and emulsifiers. I don’t understand why people are still accepting this food. Both unpalatable and unhealthy it offers neither satisfaction nor nutrition.
Hot chocolate is always going to be a decadent treat, but there are real health benefits to carefully processed, high-cocoa bitter chocolate and the valuable calcium of fresh milk and cream. The horror of processed food is both what is put in and what is taken away.
This alternative hot chocolate is inspired by those I tasted in Copenhagen, when I lived there between 2004 – 2007. Here I finally understood the attraction of the drink when I was served a lump of chocolate attached to a wooden stick, steamed milk and a side helping of freshly whipped cream. It was more of a dessert than a drink, involving lots of stirring, sipping and scooping to achieve the perfect, heady, warming combination of bittersweet chocolate, frothy milk and luscious cream. Incomparable.
You can make this using the mildly more complicated chocolate-on-a-stick method described above (see tutorial here) or simply chop your chocolate fine before stirring it into hot milk.
Two ingredients, barely a recipe, but rich, creamy and redolent of chocolate, just as hot chocolate should be. A dollop of freshly whipped cream the luscious ‘icing on the cake’.
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