French-style Hot Chocolate

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

Instead of spending Christmas Day in Birmingham like we usually do, The Astronomer and I are rendezvousing with the Chaplins in Charleston, South Carolina. As much as I love Alabama, I am very excited about our holiday destination.

I was inspired this past weekend to make a trio of Chaplin Christmas favorites since we’ll be exploring Charleston’s culinary scene rather than eating at home this year.

Between The Astronomer and me, we whipped up a big pot of oyster and wild rice bisque, a batch of molasses spice cookies, and best of all, enough French-style hot chocolate to take us well into 2014.

“Here’s the Christmas elixir—for soul chill, fat deprivation, or ordinary happiness deficit,” wrote my mother-in-law when she emailed me the recipe last week.

This recipe for “Authentic French Chocolate” comes from Eat, Drink, and be Chinaberry, a cookbook first published in 1996 that’s a staple in The Astronomer’s mother’s collection. One of the book’s contributors’ father brought this recipe home following his time in France during World War II.

What’s really special about this hot chocolate is its light and frothy texture and incredibly rich profile—the result of melted bittersweet chocolate swimming in a sea of whipped cream. Dolloped generously into a mug of warmed milk and sipped (or maybe even slurped), it’s like no other hot chocolate I’ve ever experienced.

It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas ’round here.

  • 5 ounces semi sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Milk, to serve

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

Begin by finely chopping the chocolate.

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

In a small sauce pan, combine the chocolate and water and melt over medium heat. When the chocolate has completely melted, add the sugar and salt, whisking to incorporate. Cook for four minutes and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and cool to room temperature.

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

While the chocolate is cooling, whip the cream using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or by hand until soft peaks form.

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

Once the chocolate has cooled to room temperature, delicately fold it in with the whipped cream. You’ll want chocolaty streaks, not a ubiquitously brown mixture.

To serve, warm milk over the stove or in the microwave, and divide into individual mugs. Add super-generous dollops (3 to 5 tablespoons) of the chocolate whipped cream to each mug of hot milk. Stir lightly to combine, then slowly sip with glee.

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

Makes 20 mugs of hot chocolate.

Recipe from Eat, Drink, and be Chinaberry.

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