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Cinnamon Hot Chocolate (aka probably the best hot chocolate ever)



It's December, which means I can unabashedly talk about all things Christmas-related! I'm so excited because Christmas is my favourite holiday (I think I have said this so many times by now). I can't wait to dive in to more Christmas baking.


The first Christmas-related recipe is not really a baked food, but rather, a warm, cinnamon-spiced, velvety smooth, rich hot chocolate. Now I know it seems like a bold statement to call this 'the best' hot chocolate. After all, the concoction of chocolate and milk (and sometimes cream!) is nothing new; the Internet has tons of hot chocolate recipes, ranging from classic, spiced, alcohol-spiked, and even vegan! Does the Internet need another hot chocolate recipe? Maybe, maybe not. Still, I want to share my favourite hot chocolate recipe with you because it truly is delicious and might even be the best one you've had. Furthermore, there's no harm having more hot chocolate, am I right?



Why do I claim this to be most likely the best hot chocolate ever? Let me break it down for you. This cinnamon hot chocolate is perfectly balanced: it's smooth and creamy without being too thick (some hot chocolates are just really thick, almost like ganache, which is not my preference); it has just the right amount of cinnamon spice; and finally, it is dark and chocolatey and not too sweet. Basically, it's perfect.



When making hot chocolate, make sure that you use the best quality chocolate you can find, since chocolate is the main flavour here. I used 70% dark chocolate from Callebaut. I like my hot chocolate bittersweet, hence I used 70% chocolate, but if you like it sweeter, you could use chocolate with a lower cocoa percentage or add sugar to taste. Just make sure to use chocolate that has at least 60% cocoa solids (or you could use a mixture of 70% and 60% dark chocolate) for optimal chocolate flavour.


Some recipes call for cocoa powder instead of chocolate, but I find that using melted chocolate yields a smoother hot chocolate than using cocoa powder. While you do have to perform an extra step of melting the chocolate separately as you heat up the milk, doing so ensures a perfectly smooth hot chocolate.


A few more things to note:

  • I steep two 4-inch long cinnamon sticks in the warmed milk for at least 15 minutes to really bring out the cinnamon flavour. If you do not have cinnamon sticks, you could whisk 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon into the milk. Still, I recommend cinnamon sticks as the flavour would be more pronounced in the milk.

  • While the cinnamon steeps in the milk, melt the dark chocolate gently in the microwave. I set the microwave to 'medium' and melt the chocolate in 20-second intervals, stirring in between. This ensures that the chocolate melts evenly and that you do not burn the chocolate (which would render it unusable).

  • I pour the melted chocolate into the milk while it is simmering on low heat. Pour in the chocolate in three stages, whisking well to blend the chocolate and cinnamon milk together. This would produce a smooth hot chocolate.


That's all! While it seems like there are a lot of steps to follow, this hot chocolate really comes together in no time. It's perfect for a cold day, or anytime you want to indulge a little in a chocolatey drink. Enjoy!


 

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

Serves 4


Ingredients

  • 1000 g (4 cups) whole milk

  • 2 large cinnamon sticks

  • 1 to 2 tsp granulated sugar (optional)

  • 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

  • 226 g dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids)

  • Pinch of salt

  • Marshmallows or lightly sweetened whipped cream, to serve (optional)


Method

  1. In a large saucepan or pot over medium-low heat, pour in the milk, sugar (if using), cinnamon sticks, vanilla and salt. Heat until it reaches a gentle simmer.

  2. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the cinnamon steep for at least 15 minutes. Then, remove the cinnamon sticks.

  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, gently melt the dark chocolate in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between to ensure that the chocolate melts evenly. Continue to heat the chocolate in the microwave and stir until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.

  4. Turn on the heat to low to gently rewarm the milk. Pour in the melted chocolate in three stages, whisking until the chocolate is completely incorporated and the mixture is hot. Add a pinch of salt.

  5. Divide the cinnamon hot chocolate between four mugs. Serve hot, with marshmallows or lightly whipped cream, if desired, or just drink it as is! Yum!


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