Quest for the Perfect Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate Nirvana, Mallorca, Spain (Feb. 2012).

When I was a child I was served cocoa made from packets and hot water. Hmm. Then I experienced hot cocoa made with an American brand cocoa powder, sugar, and steaming milk. How could both share the same name? I would never go back to packets and water. But then I tasted hot chocolate made with a British brand drinking chocolate mixed into hot milk. This new drink was no longer hot cocoa, but smooth and rich hot CHOCOLATE.

December. 2011. Prague Christmas Market. Nirvana. A tiny cup of hot chocolate with a consistency and flavor akin to warm chocolate pudding. So rick, thick, and silky, I genuinely could not stop smiling. With whipped cream on top, it was pure decadence. When we left Prague, I thought I was leaving not only a gorgeous city, but the home of the most amazing hot chocolate on earth.

Fast forward. Mirador de Ses Barques, Mallorca, Spain. Sitting atop a mountain just climbed, with a cool breeze flowing up from the bay below, I experienced hot chocolate nirvana again. I’d thought Prague was my one and only go-to destination for the best hot chocolate on the planet, but there I sat, hands wrapped around a tiny cup of heaven. A heaven that will link Prague and Mallorca eternally in my ever hot chocolate lovin’ heart.

As I reached the bottom of the cup, a thought occurred to me: Could I make something so divine in my own kitchen? There has to be a way. Returning from our trip to Mallorca, we stopped at the grocery store on our way home. As we cruised down the aisle containing various brands of hot chocolate, I spotted, on the very top shelf, (Choir sings, “Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh”) Spanish Hot Chocolate.

I made a cup that evening, but my journey was not to end. The texture was right (thanks to starch E-1420), but the flavor was far from spot on. The next time I made a cup I doctored it with a small handful of Belgian chocolate chips. Quite tasty, actually. Getting closer but, at the same time, not even close.

Light bulb moment: find a recipe on the Internet (duh!). Several hours and multiple discarded recipes later, I think I’ve found a potential winner. Here’s how I made “Spanish Hot Chocolate” from scratch:

Two ounces of chocolate. (The recipe called for milk chocolate, but I only had semi-sweet on hand and I like semi-sweet better than milk chocolate anyway.)

One cup of whole milk and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch (known as corn flour in the UK), blended and then heated until almost but not quite boiling.

Whisk the chocolate into the milk until melted and well blended. Done and done, but the texture didn’t seem nearly thick enough, so I added another 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch. Then another 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch. Better. I think.

So, finally, the moment of truth. I took a tentative sip… Why was I surprised that it tasted like semi-sweet chocolate and not like warm chocolate pudding when, basically, the only flavorful ingredient IS semi-sweet chocolate? Not a bad flavor at all, but certainly not my nirvana.

The quest continues…

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About satnavandcider

An American expat living in England, exploring the United Kingdom and Europe through five senses and a camera lens.
This entry was posted in All Posts, Destinations, Drink, Europe, Food and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Quest for the Perfect Hot Chocolate

  1. in80plays says:

    I like this. And chocolate. A lot. I’m glad you discovered making hot chocolate with milk- it’s just not the same with water!

  2. Monique says:

    It’s a huge sacrifice, but I’m willing to volunteer as a taste tester. No, no, don’t thank me, this is for a higher good. I’ll bring my own mug. mmmmmmm

  3. Your willingness to volunteer is much appreciated. I suggest you keep your taste buds well practiced, because you may be called to service at a moments notice.

  4. leiah says:

    Yes, I discovered here that it is almost insulting to suggest a hot chocolate package be made with water. I guess it makes sense…

    My most heavenly cup of hot chocolate was in Poland. Everyone else said it was ‘too rich’ for them, but it was like a melted, super delicious Belgian chocolate bar. I know exactly where I am going if I ever get to Krakow again.

    Are you on pinterest? I am sure there are a million recipes on there. Did you try making it with cream instead of milk? Maybe add some butter, so it’s basically chocolate sauce put in milk?

    • Rich, yes. I’m sure that’s why the cups were small. But too rich!?! Insanity.

      Where would you go for hot chocolate in Krakow (in case we’re ever in the neighborhood)?

      Thanks for your suggestions. I’ll have to give them a try.

  5. Oh my- I am craving hot chocolate now! Delicious!

  6. Pingback: Racing the Light: From Mirador de Ses Barques to Port de Soller. Mallorca Part 4. | Sat Nav and Cider

  7. Pingback: Versatile Blogger Award Nominees! | Sat Nav and Cider

  8. Pingback: 4 Travel Tips from Our Monday in Palma. Mallorca, Part 6. | Sat Nav and Cider

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