Test Kitchen: Hot chocolate warms the soul

Stovetop Hot Chocolate

Makes 4-5 servings

•  1 quart milk of choice

•  1 quart heavy cream

•  1 3.5 oz bar of your favorite chocolate, broken

•  5-6 oz. chocolate chips of choice, bittersweet, semi-sweet, etc.

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, optional

• 1 tsp. instant coffee, optional

In a non-aluminum saucepan, add the heavy cream and heat over low-medium heat. When it feels warm to the touch, add the chocolate in small batches. When the chocolate begins to melt on the bottom, begin to mix slowly while moving the pieces of chocolate along the bottom of the pot. Continue to add the chocolate until all the large pieces are melted. Mix until the whisk can be pulled out of the mix without any chocolate on it. Once all the chocolate has been thoroughly combined with the cream, add the milk and dry ingredients. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve hot.

Spiced whipped cream

•  1 cup heavy cream

•  2 tbsp. confectioner's sugar

• 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom, optional

In a glass or metal mixing bowl, combine ingredients and whisk vigorously until stiff peaks begin to form. A stand or hand mixer makes this so much easier. Serve atop hot chocolate or other delicious desserts.

Can't make it? Go get it.

HOT CHOCOLATE

• ADDRESS: Hardback Cafe inside Hastings, 5206 N. Navarro St, Victoria

• PHONE: 361-573-3721

• WHEN: 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday

This cold weather warrants some hot chocolate.

Not the kind that needs water added to it but the kind that requires a little bit of time on the stove to let the chocolate chips melt and makes everyone happy.

Also, the nice thing about homemade hot chocolate is the recipe can be adapted to use whichever chocolate and flavors the drinker prefers. The possibilities might include spicy notes from cayenne pepper or floral notes of vanilla.

If you apply the same rule about wine to hot chocolate, using any bar that you like to eat will yield a hot chocolate you'll likely enjoy drinking.

Steeping mint sprigs or dissolving some candy canes can also add a little something extra in the mug of hot chocolate. You can also use a bar of chocolate that has added flavors. A bar with nuts might create a possible choking hazard, but caramel, on the other hand, might add some depth and added sweetness. Just make sure it's dissolved throughout the mixture.

For large batches, be sure to serve it in a slow cooker if a stovetop is out of the question. Keep it on low and stir occasionally.

Also, adding spiced, hand-whipped cream topping is a great way to serve homemade hot chocolate.

How are you keeping warm during these arctic fronts? Send a message to jrodrigo@vicad.com or tweet @EatsEatsEats. I'm always hungry.