Loco for Hot Cocoa
Favorite local cocoa hot spots
Hot Chocolate on a Stick
There's a definite chill in the air, and I immediately crave rich, sweet, creamy Hot Cocoa. Maybe it's a Pavlovian response that began in childhood. Although my first sips of cocoa were not gourmet—Swiss Miss with mini marshmallows was IT in my house. Then my parents took a fateful business trip to San Francisco and returned with a tin of Ghirardelli's Hot Cocoa. It was love at first sip.
Thankfully we don't need to hop on the red eye, we've got some tremendous Hot Cocoa provisioners right here in Fairfield County.
The Little Chocolate Company's owner and chocolatier, Martine Coscia, was born and raised in Belgium so she really knows her chocolate. Their hot chocolate is sold in 8oz or 12oz cups only. It comes in 4 different chocolate flavors: Belgium Blend, Mexican Origin— add cayenne & cinnamon to it, White Chocolate, and African Origin. The prices vary depending on the chocolate and cup size from $2.25 to $3.50. They're all made with frothy 2% milk and topped with chocolate shavings and a dollop of whipped cream.
Located at 99 Mill Street in Greenwich, (203) 531-6190.
Isabelle et Vincent's little slice of French heaven in Fairfield has hot chocolate made from Valrhona chocolate powder from France. It's sold only by the cup $3 for small $5 for large. You'll be tempted to have 2 cups, but it's so wonderfully rich one cup will more than satisfy you.
Located at 1903 Post Road in Fairfield, (203) 292-8022.
Hot Chocolate Sticks by Choc-o-lait are made with fine Belgian chocolate. Quite simply they are sticks with a chunk of chocolate on the end. It's a super fun and simple— just swirl it in 6oz of hot milk for 1 minute and watch it turn into delicious hot cocoa! With flavors like dark, milk chocolate, hazelnut, ginger, caramel, coffee and even bio-milk & bio-dark which are made with 100% organic ingredients it's too yummy for words. Take it one step further and skewer a marshmallow on top of the chocolate chunk. . .
Make Your Own
Hot Chocolate Sticks—check out this recipe from foodiewithfamily.com
½ cup heavy cream
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
3 cups semisweet chocolate (chopped chocolate bars or chips)
3/4 cup unsweetened baking chocolate (4 ounces)
wooden sticks, lollipop sticks, candy canes or bamboo skewers
optional, crushed candy canes, marshmallows and/or cocoa powder
Line an 8 x 8-inch pan or a 9 x 9-inch pan with foil and set aside.
Combine the cream and sweetened condensed milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Heat until it is steaming, but not boiling, stirring occasionally to keep from scorching.
Add all of the chocolate and remove from the heat. Allow the chocolate to melt, undisturbed, for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, whisk firmly until it is thick and shiny. You can add a few drops of flavoring extract or oil at this point, or add some powdered espresso or vanilla. Whisk vigorously again to incorporate the flavoring (if used.)
Use a rubber or silicone spatula to spread the mixture out evenly in your prepared, foil-lined pan. Allow to cool at room temperature 12 hours or overnight so that it firms slowly.
Take the fudge from the pan and remove the foil. Place on a cutting board.
Using a knife heated with hot water and wiped dry, cut the fudge into 36 equal-sized cubes. You can either stick a lollipop stick (or candy cane) into the center of each block or leave as is. Additionally, you can press the cut sides of the fudge into crushed candy canes, roll them in cocoa powder or top with marshmallows.
Wrap tightly and store at room temperature.
Traditional Cocoa Powder for hot chocolate—here's a terrific recipe from the Food Professor, Alton Brown, of Good Eats.
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. In a small pot, heat 4 to 6 cups of water.
Fill your mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine. Seal the rest in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry. This also works great with warm milk.