The Setting: Hanging with the fam in Nashville.
The Soundtrack: Ink Masters.
On the Stovetop: Eggs.
The Scenario: Bringing to life an old memory.
I went to my first dinner party when I was about eight.
A friend of my mom was the generous (and brave) host.
In those days I was a bit of a pain when it came to food--I had the bad reputation in the sleepover circuit as The Picky Eater.
I don't know if our host had been forewarned of what she was getting into inviting me to her elegant table that night, but I easily recall her composure and graciousness.
Sadly, I have no idea what we were served for dinner or whether there were special child-friendly offerings--surprise, surprise, I only remember dessert.
When dinner plates were cleared, the adults were given mugs of something chocolaty, delicious-looking, and, unfortunately for me, spiked with alcohol. I did not understand why I could not partake, and, as the promise of dessert was the only worthwhile part of any meal to me in those days, I was quite upset.
Before I could thoroughly embarrass my mother and escalate into full-tantrum mode, however, our expert hostess placed a mug in front of me. She scooped a mound of fluffy, cloud-like chocolate into the mug and said, "Let's see how you like this," as she slowly poured steaming milk over the chocolate cloud.
I watched in wonder as the cloud slowly melted into creamy, frothy hot chocolate. Everyone smiled as my eyes shot up in excitement after my first sip.
Interactive, visually stunning, and delicious, it made an impression.
It's easy to tailor this hot chocolate to children, adults, coffee addicts, or candy fiends to customize the conclusion of any dinner party or holiday meal.
Prepare the chocolate ganache up to five days ahead of time. When ready to serve, simply whip it up with an electric mixer, scoop it into mugs, and top with hot milk. A quick stir yields perfectly smooth, creamy, steamy drinking chocolate.
Use skim milk for lighter, thinner results and half-and-half for a little more indulgence. Coffee can be used in place of some or all of the milk to make a mocha; Bailey's, Kahlua, or Frangelico turn it 21-and-up. Stir in crushed peppermint bark for a festive holiday treat, or top with homemade marshmallows for extra decadence.
Hot Whipped Chocolate
This hot chocolate is composed of two parts: a ganache that can prepared up to five days ahead of time, and hot milk or coffee that is poured over the whipped ganache right before serving.
~for the ganache base~
1 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
~for the hot chocolate~
1 gallon milk
(optional: brewed coffee, Irish cream liqueur, or another liqueur)
(optional toppings: crushed Peppermint Bark, marshmallows, chocolate shavings)
To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a med-large mixing bowl. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use the dull side of a paring knife to scrape out the seeds and add them to the bowl with the chocolate.
Place the cream in a microwave-safe bowl or Pyrex measuring cup and microwave 1 minute or till very not but not boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth.
Pour the chocolate ganache into a shallow baking dish and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 5 days).
When ready to serve, scrape the cooled ganache into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light, airy, and voluminous.
Use an ice-cream scoop to divide the whipped ganache evenly among eight mugs.
To prepare the hot chocolate, bring the milk to a simmer. Pour hot milk over the ganache in each mug, leaving enough room for any optional additions you might desire (alternatively, substitute hot coffee entirely for the milk).
Stir till smooth, adding any optional additions if desired.
Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.