How many of you when you think of hot chocolate think of a package of Swiss Miss? Just open the package, stir it into some hot water and drink. As a kid you probably loved it. As an adult does this really satisfy your chocolate craving? And how exciting are you to down some mono and diglyderides, artificial flavor, and carrageenan. Who needs those ingredients and who needs the Swiss (sorry Miss). How do these ingredients sound cocoa nibs, whole milk, bittersweet chocolate, sugar, water, and a pinch of kosher salt? I can easily pronounce all those words and wait there is actual chocolate in my hot chocolate, not just cocoa powder. cocoa nibs, that is close as most of us are going to get to using the actual cocoa beans themselves. I wish I would have thought up this magnificent idea, but the credit has to go to my number one source for culinary inspiration, Alton Brown. Below you will find my notes from his recipe. PRINT THE RECIPE out at Food Network’s website.
1. You will need a spice or coffee grinder to grind up the cocoa nibs. You are going to “brew” them as you would coffee. I have a Cuisinart coffee grinder that I use for spices. It managed to make short work out of the cocoa nibs. I grinded them until they just like coffee grounds.
2. Alton heats up the milk and cocoa nibs in the microwave. You might think oh no how can a respectable cook use a microwave. Isn’t that for those frozen processed meals? Have you ever boiled milk on the stove, turned your back, and seconds later heard the sizzling sound of milk burning on your stove top. A 3 mintue trip in the microwave will help you afford that mistake and still accomplish the goal here which is to heat up the milk for the cocoa nibs to steep in it.
3. The final steps involve a french press. They can be had on the cheap, I found mine at IKEA, the more expensive ones can set you back around $50-60. They might be seen as the old fashion way to make coffee but a lot of coffee lovers swear by them (I would not know because I don’t drink coffee). You could do this recipe without it, just mix together the cocoa nib mixture (straining first) with the chocolate, sugar, water, and salt. The french press is nice because you can aerate the hot chocolate giving it a better texture on the tongue.
This isn’t your grandma’s hot chocolate. This is true HOT CHOCOLATE. It is rich. Some people might want to cut it with some more milk. I love this hot chocolate, it’s way better than anything you will get out of an envelope. The downside to it, is that it takes longer to make, so instant gratification is not possible. I started the steeping right before I went out shoveling so it would be ready for when I really needed it.
The other downside is that it’s not cheap. Cocoa nibs are expensive. An 8 oz container can run upward of $10. However I bought mine nibs a while ago and have been using them here and there in recipes for months. Also the chocolate itself can be expensive, way more than just cocoa powder. Recently I have been buying chocolate chunks available at Trader Joe’s. They aren’t like the chunks you buy in the Nestle bags. They are not uniform, they just look like a bar of chocolate that has already been cut up. The bags are 10 oz each and cost $1.99, which is a ton cheaper than most chunks of chocolate you find. Plus I didn’t even have to break up my knife and cutting board.
Best hot chocolate experience ever! Try it if you are a real dark chocolate fan.