For many, a cup of hot chocolate conjures childhood memories of warming up during a snow day. Even now, when I was trapped in my apartment last week because of the snow and forced to *gasp* study for an upcoming exam, hot chocolate brought the same sort of comfort. However, as much as I loved Swiss Miss and mini-marshmallows, my palate has matured a bit – I wanted something a little more grown up.
Spiced hot chocolate is one of my favorite winter drinks. The Bent Spoon in Princeton offers a seasonal habañero hot chocolate that’s sure to warm your ribs as you stroll through the downtown, but my version of spiced hot chocolate is a little friendlier to those who don’t do well with spicy things. Using familiar spices like cinnamon and black pepper (although the latter is used in a more unconventional way) and perhaps a more unfamiliar ingredient like cardamom, you can upgrade this childhood favorite for a snow day of your own.
- 2 cups of milk (I used almond milk)
- ~1 teaspon of black peppercorns
- 8-12 green cardamom pods, crushed with your knife
- 2-3 sticks of cinnamon
- 3-4 tablespoons of good quality cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon of corn starch
- a pinch of salt
- sweetener to taste (honey, agave, sugar)
- 2-3 ounces of good quality dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 pat of butter
- vanilla extract
- Other spices (nutmeg, ginger, etc.)
- Small saucepan
- In a small saucepan, add the cinnamon, cardamom pods, and peppercorn and bring to a simmer.
- Once the mixture has reached a simmer, bring the temperature to low and add the cocoa powder. Whisk the ingredients together over the low heat until the chocolate has dissolved. If you’re using the chocolate and butter, heat them up together (the microwave is fine) at this point.
- Strain the mixture into a small bowl to remove the spices and then add the liquid back to the saucepan plus the salt (and chocolate/butter mixture). Whisk to combine.
- Add the cornstarch to the mixture, whisk over low heat until thickened.
- Serve in a mug and add sweetener to taste (I used honey)
- Sit back and enjoy!
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did, especially if you’re lactose intolerant too, I might even make it again soon (even though it was 60 degrees yesterday). If you do, let me know in the comments below or on my Instagram!