the perfect cup of cocoa

February 1, 2011

Another snow day in New England, and after sledding down the mound of snow that was once our flat yard, the children and I are in need of hot chocolate. For the kids that involves really any ole hot chocolate mix and lots and lots of their favorite mini marshmallows from Whole Foods. For me it’s a little more complicated, but well worth the effort. Here is my recipe for the perfect cup of hot chocolate.

First I start with really good cocoa. My unquestionable favorite is Jacques Torres. Now, if you just clicked that link you no doubt suffered a case of moderate-to-severe sticker shock. And I admit, I do splurge here. Because, I mean, how often do you actually drink the stuff? A dozen times a year, tops? So go ahead invest in a tin of something sinful. It will last you the season. (As long as you don’t share it with the kids, that is.) And once you’ve opened that tin and discovered the chunks of real Jacques Torres chocolate, you’ll be sold. Ahem, where was I?

Next a great mug: If you’re really a die-hard cocoa afficionado like me, you’ll need to purchase the White Forest cocoa mug. Now this is not just any other mug; it’s specifically engineered for hot chocolate. Notice the grooves around the perimeter that are right where your figures rest. It’s literally designed to be embraced by your hands, the way a cocoa mug should be. Now, usually I don’t go in for all that gadgety kitchen stuff – who needs a margarita maker? And after a decade in Manhattan (which BTW is New York City. I actually had someone ask me that once!), I certainly appreciate more multi-use items. But for cocoa, I make an exception.

Finally, on days that I really need to treat myself (like say, the third snow day in as many weeks), I add some truly rare and special marshmallows. My favorite: Whimsy and Spice. Yes, they happen to be made by friends of mine, but it think we’ve established here that I’m uncompromising about my cocoa ingredients – and W&S’s are a sybarite’s dream. Mark adds just the right amount of flavor – cardamom, espresso, maple, carmel, chocolate – to give your hot chocolate that extra little je ne sais quoi. Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day I chose vanilla rose, very pretty in pink.

And the final ingredient to the perfect cup of cocoa, after serving the children their own, I did turn on the TV (PBS!) for just a bit, so I could enjoy my perfect cup of hot chocolate in peace. Ahhhh.

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