When the season or occasion calls for hot chocolate, I make mine from scratch. It’s really quite simple.
Nothing beats the taste of dark chocolate or the mouthfeel of smooth and creamy milk. Of course, you can make this cocoa with any milk alternative, from hemp and goat to almond and soy, but I like cow’s milk with my cocoa, for a few reasons.
Milk is a great source of choline, a nutrient that’s important for memory, muscle movement and sleep (Warm milk before bed, anyone?). It’s also a source of potassium of which high intakes are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Milk also offers b-vitamins, calcium, vitamin A and magnesium, and milk is a wonderful source of protein. As for my choice of antioxidant–rich dark chocolate, once you make your cocoa with it, you’ll never have it any other way!
Last, but not least, the Amaretto puts the cocoa over the top. Sure, you can omit it, but when I’m looking for something festive to serve friends or just enjoy myself as a reward for wrapping, shopping, cleaning and cooking, that splash of liqueur does the trick.
The following recipe can be made using an espresso machine or by hand. I provide both methods. The cocoa is 288 calories per serving and looks extra festive when garnished with a chocolate-covered pretzel stick.
Yield: 1 (6 oz.) hot chocolate
Time: 2 minutes
¾ cup 1% or 2% milk
1 oz. 70% cocoa dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 oz. Amaretto
1 tsp. toasted slivered almonds
1 dark chocolate covered pretzel stick (optional)
If you have an espresso machine, use the steamer wand. Place the milk and chocolate in the steamer, steam as you would for a cappuccino. As the milk starts to get hot, stop steaming and stir the chocolate to help it to melt into the milk. Continue steaming until frothy and hot. Pour in the Amaretto, then pour into a mug. Top with slivered almonds and garnish with the pretzel stick.
If you don’t have an espresso machine, place milk and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until hot and the chocolate is completely melted (it should be completely homogeneous and not at all speckled). Remove from heat and whisk heartily to make froth or use an electric milk frother. Pour in the Amaretto, then pour into a mug. Top with slivered almonds and garnish with the pretzel stick.