the best hot chocolate ever brewed

July 1, 2008

 

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Sometimes I confess, I carry packets of hot chocolate in my bag. I have a pathetic tendency towards cold-bloodedness, frequently shivering from July to June and all months in between. Drinking warm liquids is a comfort to me: it helps me stay warm and satisfied, instead of hollow-bellied and frigid like a hungry newt…which is often how I feel between meals and in blistering air conditioning or winter weather. Hence my faithful Stanley thermos and packets of hot chocolate, to be enjoyed whenever I can get my hands on 16 oz of boiling water. Last night, I had the hot chocolate of a lifetime. I am afraid it will inspire me to divorce my long-time partner Swiss Miss–which admittedly has been a marriage of convenience. She’s always been there for me, ready to remind me of childhood days on the ski slopes or of family ice skating in the high school hockey rink. She keeps me warm and my sweet tooth sated. But now I am afraid that even when I happen upon a floating marshmallow from one of her special packets, I will feel forlorn and disappointed, yearning for something more. Something like what I had last night. I came home late from a long night of eating, drinking and dancing. I went to a Greek-themed party, which I will post on tomorrow. Though the entertainment was spectacular, the hot chocolate at the evening’s end was by far the best part. It was extraordinary. It was the best chocolate ever brewed, I am convinced. When I woke up today my thoughts went right back to it: to the dark cubes wrapped in thin paper like tea bags, and placed bottoms- up in fine little tea cups. These dark chocolate squares were served like lollipops on wooden sticks, wrapped in paper and resting in empty china. (Drinking from a proper saucer and cup makes any beverage better.) On the side there was a big, white thermos with pewter piping full of steamed whole milk: partly frothy, partly rich liquid. But when I poured the milk into each cup and swirled the chocolate around with the wooden stick, it turned into a paisley mix of white and brown before the chocolate melted some more. Once I deemed it dark enough, I removed the lollipop from the cup, sucked at the remaining cube (now a cylinder) and placed the naked stick and the dripping paper into a deep side saucer, offered specifically to hold these remnants of my brew. Licking melted chocolate off of my fingers made the process especially enjoyable… apparently I got some on my nose. When I go home I will melt and mold chocolate around sticks so that I can enjoy this kind of cocoa anytime. I suggest you do the same.

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