With Valentine’s Day coming up tomorrow, many of us probably are thinking about chocolate. And since it seems like lately just about every day here has been snowing (like today) or freezing (like everyday), there is nothing better than to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket, a big mug of hot chocolate, and of course, with your sweetheart (doubles as the foot warmer/DVD technical support staff/snacks and drinks delivery assistant, just kidding…okay, not really).
I love hot chocolate and I look forward most to every February when City Bakery celebrates with its Hot Chocolate Festival. There is a different flavor for every day of the month and each is just as unique than the next (my favorite one was a goji berry hot chocolate I had few years ago, but sadly, that flavor hasn’t been repeated it again). City Bakery’s hot chocolate is a must-try if you are in New York City, but to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in the comfort of your own home, you need to make this: homemade hot chocolate on a stick!
When you have a spare moment to just sit down and relax with a cup, homemade chocolate is the way to go. It is rich, decadent, and almost like a dessert in and of itself.
I like to use a mixture of semisweet and dark chocolate to give this drink a sweet yet intense chocolate flavor. I used 4 ounces of 62% semisweet and 4 ounces of 70% bittersweet chocolate, but if you like it darker, you can use a mix of bittersweet and milk chocolate like I did in these Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies.
Start by melting chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. In another bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar.
Add the dry ingredients to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. It may seem like the mixture would never come together and you may be tempted to add a few drops of water to bind it all together. Don’t do it! Just keep mixing and mixing and I promise you that it will all come together nicely.
The mixture is rather thick, and if it is too difficult to work with, you can microwave for a couple of seconds to soften it. Press chocolate into the prepared tray, dividing evenly among eight cubes and pressing into an even layer. Insert a wooden popsicle or lollipop stick into each cube and let it harden. I use a teaspoon to help me pat it into the cubes. If you want to, you can use other molds (or small cookie cutters) instead of the ice cube tray. Just be mindful that each batch makes eight cups of hot chocolate, so be sure to divide it evenly into eight portions.
Once the chocolate cubes are hardened, remove them from the ice cube tray. If you want to be a nice friend, you can wrap them individually with cellophane paper and send them to your favorite people. Don’t forget to include the serving instructions (dissolve hot chocolate cube into 8 ounces of hot milk).
They don’t need any accompaniment, though it is pretty awesome with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, a pinch each of cinnamon and chili pepper to turn it into Mexican hot chocolate (or better yet, use a cinnamon bark instead of popsicle stick to hold the chocolate cube), or a large piece of homemade marshmallow. Or all of the above. Every sip is velvety but not cloyingly sweet. For a mid-afternoon pick me up, you can even dissolve the chocolate cube in about 6oz of water and a shot of espresso to turn it into a mocha.