Growing up on a healthy diet of Enid Blytons and Archies, I was besotted by the seemingly exotic Hot Cocoa. Sipped steaming with a tossing of marshmallows, seated on a warm rug in front of a roaring fireplace. A dog cuddled next you and a throw carelessly wrapped around the shoulders. Really, that was the romanticism of winter for me. I dreamt of staring out the window, watching the snow fall softly as I warmed my palms on my very own cup of Hot Cocoa, the aroma of chocolate wafting through my senses.
Mum didn't laugh off my fantasies. She indulged me with her shorthand version of the Hot Cocoa. But warm milk with drinking chocolate just didn't have the same magical feel. Dad would add a capful of brandy and insist it was the secret ingredient to that elusive taste. But sigh! My literary tastebuds weren't fooled!
Many snowfalls and failed milky cocoas later, I found it! As Nigella beamingly stirred her pot of hot chocolate, I knew it was The One! I could almost inhale the aroma through the telly. And I wasn't wrong. I made it the very next evening. And as we sipped it under the wintry stars, my chocoholic cuz agreed every sip was a trip to heaven. We had found the Hot Cocoa of our literary dreams!
Over the past few years, I've played around with the flavours, tweaking it a lil here and there. Made it truly my own. And as the winter chill nips my toes, I tuck em under my snoring dog, pull my Naga shawl a little closer and revel in that warm, molten chocolate dreamily making its way down my throat. The magic is alive. And this is Not Just Any Hot Chocolate!
Milk 2 cups
Dark Chocolate 100 gms, chopped or shredded
Cinnamon 1/2 inch stick
Brown Sugar 1 teaspoon
Vanilla Syrup 1 1/2 teaspoon
Peppercorn 4, crushed coarsely
Rum 1/4 cup
Pour the milk, chocolate, peppercorns, sugar and cinnamon into a saucepan. Heat on the lowest flame till the chocolate dissolves completely. Take off the heat and add the rum and vanilla syrup. Whisk well. Strain and get ready to be transported to Chocolate Heaven!
Notes: I used Monin Vanilla syrup but you can easily replace it with vanilla extract mixed with honey. And if you want a more decadent experience, substitute half cup of milk with Amul fresh cream :)