Enjoying a warm mug filled with melted chocolate sounds like the secret to surviving (and even loving) the frosty season. Too bad many of us have being relying on stale, prepackaged hot cocoa for far too long.
While dropping temperatures and piles of snow are making it harder to trek our favorite café for a more mouthwatering cup of this beloved classic (you know that bed is too comfy to leave), it's still possible to whip up a great hot chocolate in the comfort of your own home.
How? Just ask "Mr. Chocolate" himself. World-renowned French pastry chef Jacques Torres, who has made a successful career out of all-things chocolate, recently shared his secrets for making hot chocolate like a pro. And trust us, his version is a much better holiday treat than anything you'll find in a package or café.
If you need any extra incentive to whip up a batch of oozing chocolate and creamy milk, researchers are reporting that seniors, in particular, perform better on thinking and memory tests after drinking two cups of hot chocolate per day over the course of a month (when compared with those who don't). Brain imaging also showed cocoa-drinkers had better blood flow in the brain.
Ready to get sipping? Good. Amp up your recipe (and health) with Torres’ six simple tricks for luscious hot chocolate:
Know the Difference
Did you know there’s actually a difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa? According to Torres, hot chocolate highlights actual chocolate, as opposed to hot cocoa, which uses powder. Using real chocolate results in a smoother and richer drink.
“To make hot chocolate, make sure you boil it twice,” says Torres. “First boil the milk, add the chocolate, and then boil both together.” Torres' double boiling method makes the drink creamier, all while uniting the rich flavors together.
Select the Right Chocolate
Milk chocolate may be sweeter, but that's because it contains more sugar, which can easily overpower your drink. “Use dark chocolate with between 60 to 70 percent cocoa,” says Torres. This will ensure your chocolate’s flavor is prominent, lasting, and all the more satisfying without extra sweet stuff.
Never Go Cheap
“Use a high quality chocolate for your drink,” says Torres. “It has a higher butter and fat content, so it melts smoothly and tastes better.”
Since your chocolate should be luscious and gratifying on its own, Torres recommends using 2 percent milk, as anything with full fat could potentially overpower the chocolate’s flavor. If dairy isn’t for you, consider other yummy variations, such as unsweetened almond milk.
Consider These Additions
Craving something more decadent? Torres recommends a few extra ingredients to give your hot chocolate added texture. “Add some corn starch and milk powder so that your hot chocolate becomes thick, smooth and velvety,” he says.
So, what are you waiting for? Get sipping!