NEXT time youíre stuck indoors on a rainy weekend, get into the kitchen and make yourself a mug of home-made hot drinking chocolate. Your life will not be the same again. Nor will your tastebuds. And you wonít ever want to buy a commercial brand of drinking chocolate powder after that for sure. Youíll forget the tinned stuff and stick to your own recipe for the hot chocolate fix.
The thing to do, of course, is get yourself a couple of bars of good cooking chocolate that are available in the market. These contain from between 30 to 75 per cent cocoa solids and are used in cooking and confectionery. UpperCrust recommends Morde which is a Bombay brand and available at the Empire Stores in Crawford Market. It is just possible that Morde might not be available in your city. In that case scout around for an alternate brand. We discovered Morde just like that.
Donít, however, settle for anything other than cooking chocolate. The milk chocolate bars manufactured by Cadburyís and Amul simply wonít do, these are eating chocolates, not cooking.
The cooking chocolate bars come in half and quarter-kilo bars. For your home-made mug of hot drinking chocolate buy two half-kilo bars. They come in Sweet and Bitter flavours and cost Rs. 85 and Rs. 90 each bar respectively. Go for the Bitter bars, they are dark brown in colour, and even though they are bitter chocolate, you donít need to use sugar in this recipe for your home-made cuppa. So, when you experiment later and make a mug of hot drinking chocolate with a Sweet bar you will find that it is a little overly sweet in taste.
Donít keep the chocolate in the refrigerator, it takes ages to break and melt after that. Keep in at room temperature. And its easier to chop into small pieces when you are ready to start
the recipe. Weíll run you through the list of things you will need for this simple recipe that makes six mugs:
1 bar Bitter cooking chocolate
Heavy-bottomed iron pan
Small vessel for melting chocolate
Glass bath for melting
Electric whisk or hand blender
Whipped cream (optional)
You are ready to begin making the best mug of hot drinking chocolate in the world now... and at home! There are two ways to melting the chocolate. One in the heavy-bottomed pan on a slow fire. The iron in the pan retains the heat and the pieces of chocolate that you have finely chopped melt easily, but keep stirring. In a thin pan, the chocolate would stick to the pan and become a mess. Or burn out. The other method is to use a double boiler. Place the chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl and then stand this bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Make sure the base of the bowl is not in contact with the water and that the water is not boiling rapidly. The chocolate melts easily.
This is the better way.
However, you will find that the pieces of chocolate donít melt into a smooth paste of flowing consistency. Instead, what you will get is a lumpy concoction. Adding a little milk you may use the hand blender here to break up the small residual pieces further. But better than that, take a spoon and fork and manually mash the chocolate as you would do hot potatoes. The result is amazing! You keep stirring the chocolate all the while it is melting so that it doesnít burn out. Try to prevent water or steam coming in contact with the melted chocolate for this can cause it to seize and stiffen, rendering it unusable.
When the chocolate has melted, take a spoonful of it and dribble it into a mug. Pour hot milk into this and stir. Your mug of home-made hot drinking chocolate is ready! It will be somewhat of a thick, syrupy consistency. You want it thinner and lighter, add a little less milk and some hot water instead. But the yardstick of measure for a mug of good hot drinking chocolate is not whether it is thick or thin. Best to have it with both milk and water, that gives you a normal mug which is neither thick nor thin, but simply perfect!
You can do wonders with the cooking chocolate that you have melted. For instance, in your mug of hot drinking chocolate you can drop a blob of whipped cream to further enhance the taste. The cream floats on the top. If you want to dissolve it in the chocolate, use the electric whisk a bit, but gently. On cold and wet evenings after dinner, the hot chocolate makes an excellent and warming dessert. But add a small dash of the cognac to it. That will make the chocolate sing! You can spend several indulgent hours in the kitchen playing around with chocolate because cooking with chocolate is fun. And as you will discover, there is no magic formula to make the perfect mug of hot drinking chocolate at home. Have patience. Youíll be pleasantly surprised by the result!