Like-A-Dream Hot Chocolate
In what seems like another lifetime, I studied art for a semester in Florence. At twenty, I thought it was the beginning of many more adventures like it. Seven years later, I’ve been back to Europe once, which only leads me to wonder why experiences like that wasted on the young. I mostly remember just walking, walking, everywhere, my loneliness clutched around me like a blanket, my heart heavy with the beauty of the place.
I’ll never forget what it felt like once the air turned from crisp autumn to damp winter. Though I was a transplant from college in Minnesota, I had never felt cold like this. The air was so humid, the cold sunk right through my clothes and into my bones. On one particularly cold, bright, wind-whipping day, my classmates and I stood in the Piazza della Signoria listening to presentations on the Fountain of Neptune, the Rape of the Sabine Women, and Judith and Holofernes. I remember standing, my hands thrust deep into the pockets of my velvet blazer, wanting so badly to run inside somewhere, anywhere. But in an act of generosity and whim that really made an impression on me, our program leader waved her gloved hands in the air and suggested we drink hot chocolate rather than stand in the cold.
However many of us there were — 20? 30? I’m not sure — filed into a bright, elegant cafe where hot chocolate was ordered for all of us. As the cups were filled, we passed them through the throngs until each of us standing in the middle of the black and white tiled floor was holding a cup and saucer.
I’m not sure if the hot chocolate would today win for my favorite, but at the time, I had not ever tasted, nor could I ever imagine tasting, anything as delicious. It was the perfect thing at the perfect time. And come to think of it, that’s probably why charmed events like this happen to young, clueless girls of twenty.
Since then, I’ve tried every kind of hot chocolate that crosses my path, and happily spent most nights last winter in bed, sipping at something warm, and reading the very best string of books ever. But I think the search for the perfect make-at-home hot chocolate ends here. When I took a sip of this last night, after a disappointing dinner, I literally cooed. All was redeemed. I sat down with the new book — one of your many fabulous suggestions — and called it a night.
I made a fine mess making this hot chocolate last night. The final and magical step for this hot chocolate is to blend it for a minute (it’s Blender Week on Pink of Perfection!). Now, when Molly says to take care blending hot liquids she means it. More specifically, take out the plastic nob that usually covers the hole in the lid of your blender, and drape a dishtowel over the lid and hold tight. I know this seems like a lot of fiddling for hot chocolate, but the blender step whips the hot chocolate into frothy perfection and, trust me, is worth it.
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 ½ tablespoons water
2 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water, and sugar. Place over medium heat and whisk occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. At this point, blend the mixture. If you have an immersion blender, you can do this directly in the saucepan; if not, you’ll need to transfer it to a traditional blender. Either way, blend for 1 minute (on high speed, if using a traditional blender – and take care(!), as hot liquids expand when blended). The finished mixture should be very smooth and frothy.