At the tail end of winter (technically it's spring as of tomorrow, but in Ottawa, that just means it's light earlier...not that it's warmer!) even those favourite treats start to seem less special. Perhaps it's too much time spent glumly staring outside at the frigid cold, or perhaps it's just seasonal doldrums, but whatever the case...when a cup of hot chocolate doesn't seem special anymore, it's a problem.
So to cheer us up today, as winter made a last gasp effort to bring down the house, we made the ultimate hot chocolate. There's a new trend in chocolates (not all that new, but it's slow to catch on), and we're among the crowd of people growing to love the combination of chili peppers and chocolate, whether it's in truffles, cakes, chocolate bars, or, as of today, a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
As with well-made chili truffles, this cup of sweetness shows just a hint of spice at the tail end of each swallow. It's meant to be a mellow warmth, not gut-rotting spiciness. For that reason, I recommend erring on the side of caution when you add the cayenne. You can always add more if you want...but you can't take it out if you put in too much!
[We use a brand name hot chocolate powder - no flavourless no-name brand allowed. Some things, we have established, are worth the extra dollar. You could easily get the same great treat with traditional cocao and milk. Just make sure it's made nice and sweet, so you get the perfect mix of sweetness and heat. ]
SPICY HOT CHOCOLATE
Into a big thick mug, measure out:
- Hot chocolate mix (amount as per directions, plus an extra teaspoon or so)
- Tiny pinch cayenne pepper (sprinkle the pepper into your hand so can you see it)
- 2 TBSP milk or 1 TBSP light cream (cold, or heated for 20 seconds in the microwave)
Mix vigorously. Add boiling water, to top up mug. Stir well.
Enjoy...perhaps even as you stare out your window, willing that dirty pile of snow on your front lawn to melt away.
PS: A pinch of cayenne in that brownie recipe from last month would be most excellent. Again, err on the side of caution when you're adding it. A small pinch goes a long way.