I was walking through the Milton-Park intersection on Halloween when it started to snow. I didn’t care that it was still October and that most people were roaming the streets in slutty costumes; I was in the mood for hot chocolate and Christmas carols.
With Second Cup, Presse Café, and El Mundo within 50 feet of each other, it’s hard to resist an effortless mug of hot cocoa. But I’ve made a promise to myself to no longer shell out $4 for coffee shop drinks, with their powdered flavours and syrups. Hot chocolate is easy to make, and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand. You can even make the same varieties available at coffee shops. All of these recipes serve two cups of hot chocolate, because who really stops at one?
Basic hot chocolate
2 c. milk
4 oz. finely chopped dark chocolate
2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. heavy cream, chilled
1 tsp. powdered sugar
In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil. Whisk in the sugar.
Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the chocolate until smooth.
Add the vanilla.
Optional: with a hand-held frother (available for under $5 at kitchen stores), lightly froth the drink.
Whip the cream and powdered sugar with a whisk in a separate bowl.
Garnish with whipped cream and a pinch of chopped chocolate.
Peppermint hot chocolate
Prepare hot chocolate as described above. Use a very dark chocolate to balance the strong peppermint flavour.
Replace vanilla extract with ¼ tsp. peppermint extract.
Garnish with a candy cane and whipped cream.
Mexican hot chocolate
2 c. milk
1-1 1/2 tablets of finely chopped Oaxacan or Mexican chocolate, such as Ibarra or Nestle’s Abuelita. (Both are available at Librairie Espagnole or Sabor Latino on St. Laurent.)
1. Boil the milk.
2. Whisk in the chocolate until smooth. Because Mexican chocolate is mixed with sugar and spices, it may take a few minutes of heavy whisking until the drink is smooth. If it begins to clump, run it through a strainer.
3. Garnish with a pinch of cinnamon or a whole cinnamon stick for extra spice.
Coffee and hot chocolate
1. Mix equal parts coffee and hot chocolate for a sweet caffeine boost.
If you’re too lazy to do any of the above, purchase Camino hot chocolate mix for $6 at Marché Lobo. It comes in dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or chili and spice. Each container easily supplies 20 servings of hot cocoa.