The Ultimate Hot Chocolate

Do you need a break from the stress of Thanksgiving preparation?  A little rest from the cooking, cleaning, and decorating?  Here’s my suggestion:  find a comfy chair or sofa, your favorite book or music, put your feet up and enjoy a mug of this rich and decadent hot chocolate.  It will only take twenty or thirty minutes to feel completely rejuvenated, I guarantee.  This is a truly adult version of hot chocolate, good enough to substitute as dessert (especially if you spike it with a little liqueur).  You can freeze it in molds for the ultimate fudgesicles, or alternately, freeze it in ice cube trays.  Puree your chocolate ice cubes in the blender and you have chocolate frappe.  The addition of coffee makes it the ultimate mocha frappe.  The added bonus is the hot chocolate mixture can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks; so you can always have a quick chocolate treat at the ready. 

The Ultimate Hot Chocolate
(makes about 40 ounces or 5 cups)
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I prefer Droste brand )
1 recipe basic ganache (see below)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
whipped cream for garnish
Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the cocoa powder and whisk or blend with an immersion blender to dissolve.  Remove from the heat and add the ganache.  Let sit for 1 minute, then stir until well combined, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla.  Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.  Top with whipped cream and/or chocolate shavings or cocoa powder to garnish.
Basic Chocolate Ganache
(makes 2 cups)
8 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate*
1 cup heavy cream
Finely chop the chocolate with a large serrated blade knife into 1/4 inch pieces.  Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and tap the bowl on the work surface to settle the chocolate into the cream.  Let stand for 1 minute.  Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir in a circular motion from the center of the bowl out to the sides.  Continue stirring until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is completely emulsified.  If not using immediately, cool to room temperature, then store in a covered container in the refrigerator. 
(from “The Secrets of Baking” by Sherry Yard)
* My favorite online source for high quality chocolate is Chocosphere.

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