No, not those little packets of powder and tiny, dehydrated marshmallows. I mean the rich, thick, not-too-sweet kind that can only be achieved with real chocolate.
But what can really take your delicious, steaming mug over the edge and transform it into the most decadent dessert beverage is the addition of roasted chestnuts.
While I don’t quite roast my own over an open fire (though that would add another spectacular layer of flavor), this rich treat is perfect for those times when Jack Frost comes a’nipping at your nose.If you haven’t cooked with chestnuts before, they’re often available at grocery stores and local markets during the winter holidays. And they can also be purchased online. We prefer whole chestnuts that have already been peeled and roasted like these from Gefen, available on Amazon.
Though this recipe requires a few steps more than the unquestionably inferior powder and hot water method, I promise it is well worth the time.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step One – Chop Chestnuts
Start by chopping the chestnuts into small pieces.
When you purchase them already roasted, they are very easy to cut. Just smash a small handful under the side of your knife, then run the blade through a few times to break them up.
Pour into a saucepan with the milk.
Step Two – Steep
To capture the all of that wonderful flavor from your vanilla bean, slit it down the middle lengthwise and scrape out the pulp inside. Add this to your milk along with the orange zest and cinnamon and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let the milk and flavorings simmer for about 5 minutes.
Don’t waste the rest of the vanilla pod! There are so many great ways you can put it to good use. Store it in a container of sugar to infuse it with vanilla flavor, or steep it in equal parts boiling water and sugar to make vanilla syrup.
Step Three – Melt Chocolate
Add the chocolate pieces and honey to the hot milk, and stir to melt and combine completely. This drink will be quite rich, so don’t feel the need to make it too sweet. Just a touch of honey is plenty.
Step Four – Blend
Sip and Enjoy
Divide between two mugs (or keep it all for yourself to enjoy, if you’re feeling particularly decadent).
Or for a more adult treat, add a shot of white rum or bourbon…
Of course, if you’re like me and you aim to embrace both your inner child and outer adult sides, you can indulge in the marshmallows and the booze.
What’s your favorite way to serve hot chocolate? Let us know in the comments below!
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.