Every recipe I've made from this book so far has been amazing - fresh, local ingredients, complex flavours, delicious results. The only problem is that the recipes aren't always accessible for every day use, which is fine when you want to make something special and put in a little more elbow grease. It's not fine when you're looking for something simple.
The same goes for the hot chocolate recipe. I knew I was going to love it because it uses real ingredients - vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, a Thai chili pepper for added flavour. But, for that same reason, I'm not sure I want it to be my staple recipe. I mean, who has vanilla bean and Thai chili peppers lying around all the time? (Oddly enough, I did; but that's not always the case, and it could get expensive if this is something I want to make often).
Anyway, the recipe was divine - so simple, yet so flavourful because of the fresh ingredients. I used bittersweet chocolate because I prefer it to milk chocolate, and I only had skim milk, which made the chocolatey flavour a bit too rich. But, the spices were perfect. Just enough sweet, just enough heat. And the flecks of vanilla bean! So good.
I wonder if there can be a happy median - using the idea of this recipe, but with more accessible ingredients. I loved the addition of vanilla, which naturally goes so well with chocolate and is a flavour enhancer. I have a bottle of real vanilla flavouring, which I think would work. And perhaps some dried chili flakes for those times I don't have a real chili pepper. I do still recommend a fattier milk than skim to give the ingredients something to glom on to. But flavour-wise, I think recipe is my favourite so far, with some modifications still needed.
Onward with my quest!
Spiced Hot ChocolateMakes 6 cups.
- 6 cups whole milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks (I broke them in half)
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
- 1 Thai chili pepper, halved (leave seeds in for more heat, or remove for less)
- 10 oz. milk chocolate, chopped (Or other chocolate of your choosing. I used bittersweet.)
- 2 tbsp. local honey
- 1 tbsp. ground walnuts}
- Whipped cream} optional (I opted out for simplicity.)
In a saucepan, heat milk, cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean and seeds, and chili pepper over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edges, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate and honey; cook, whisking occasionally, until chocolate is melted and honey dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Strain hot chocolate and discard solids. If chocolate is too thick, thin with a little more milk. Serve in small mugs and offer ground walnuts and whipped cream as garnish, if desired.
*I'm a bit of a fangirl when it comes to "celebrity" chefs, and while Jeff Crump may not have the same celebrity status as those on the Food Network or elsewhere, I was still super excited to finally visit the Earth to Table Bread Bar a few weekends ago when T and I were there to see Varekai - a Cirque du Soleil show. After a few years of falling in love with the recipes and ideology in the cookbook, it was awesome to visit the place where it all began and taste some creations from Chef Crump's kitchen. We were not disappointed! Beer battered brie and bacon jam, porchetta on a bun with grainy mustard and a side kale Caesar salad, and umami beef burger with loaded homemade fries, for the win! I only wish Hamilton was closer, although my waistline is probably glad it's not.