What a wonderful week it has been – not only is it finally cold enough to break out my favorite sweaters, hoodies, and wool coats, but Ohio saw its very first snow of the year on Thursday, and I couldn’t be more delighted! The mini-blizzard came and went faster than you can say I should probably get snow tires, but this little glimpse into the future already has me daydreaming about the upcoming holiday season.
Isn’t there something about cold blustery days that just make you want to snuggle up under a blanket and watch a movie? (Or, if you’re like me, it makes you want to avoid a term paper, and you start traipsing around the kitchen in your pajamas, eating Oreos while rummaging through your spice cabinet.)
I know, I know, it’s way too early for snow, you say. It’s not even Halloween!
Sure, I get that. But follow my logic for a moment: snow means cold, and cold means you need to put forth extra effort to maintain a comfortable body temperature. This can only mean one thing: warm, decadent beverages topped with whipped cream.
Now do you see my point?
This week’s cold weather was making me craving something spicy and sweet, so I did some experimenting and ended up with this recipe. It is similar to Mexican hot chocolate, but I hesitate to say that because 1) it does not contain authentic Mexican chocolate and 2) I don’t know enough about traditional Mexican hot chocolate to speak intelligently about it, so…yeah.
Instead of bringing you cultural insights, I offer you this instead: a warm embrace in the form of rich, smooth chocolate, mildly spiced with nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and cayenne, and topped with a soft and sweet cinnamon whipped cream.
But be warned – this stuff is not for the faint of heart; it’s super rich! Have you heard the term “drinking chocolate?” It’s more like that. So, if you enjoy the milkier, Swiss Miss varieties of hot chocolate out there, this might not be for you. (But you can, of course, always add more milk if it gets too spicy for your liking).
What’s your favorite cold weather drink?
Spiced Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Dolce Cream
Yield: 2 big mugs
You will need:
2 + 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup of white sugar
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/8 tsp of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Small pinch of cayenne (seriously, just a pinch, unless you want the “warm embrace” to turn into “serious burn”)
2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or just use chocolate chips)
For the Cinnamon Dolce Cream:
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
To make the hot chocolate:
1) In a medium saucepan, warm the milk on medium heat until it begins to steam.
2) Whisk in the sugar, cocoa powder, spices, and salt until sugar and cocoa powder have dissolved, about ten minutes. Be sure to taste as you go along so you can add more spices if need be (or more milk for a milder flavor).
3) Stir in the chocolate until melted, remove from heat.
Make the Cinnamon Cream:
1) Combine heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a chilled bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form (but do not overheat).
Pour hot chocolate into mugs, then top with cinnamon cream. Garnish with a cinnamon stick or chocolate curls. Then try to contain your excitement as you savor the delicious, spicy flavor 🙂