Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hot Chocolate -- My Perfect Cup of Tea

It snowed again today, about 6 inches of the fluffiest, powdery-est, wet snow to blanket the area in a whole week. Co-workers and I had speculated days before it actually fell about whether or not we'd have a snow day.  Now me, a non-native to the snow, and unsure of how heavy the "weather event" would be or last, I decided to stock up on essentials. Food, water, milk, and … chocolate!

Trader Joe's European Sipping Chocolate
Feeling less gourmet and more in a survival mode, my choices skewed to the tried and true: Trader Joe's European Sipping chocolate. Now this stuff isn't a slouch in the category, albeit of the powdered variety. Especially when prepared according to the directions, the liquid love has a dense, rich flavor that is smooth in texture, with a slight bittersweet hint at the end.  It's just the stuff to take the edge off of a sweet-tooth bent on being satisfied, or as a substitute for your winter morning cup-a-joe.

Hershey's Cocoa
Also in the crowd of tried and true that I sipped, instead of eating a heavy dessert, was a ladylike cup of Hershey's hot chocolate. Even more of a classic, this stuff is a bit more labor intensive, when following the directions.

Two teaspoons of sugar are meant to match up with one of 100% cocoa in the cup or mug of your choice, and then stirred, with a dash of salt, into smooth syrup, to which a cup of milk is poured and heated. Delicious!

Now, I added a third spoon of cocoa and will probably opt for kosher salt next time, but think it is this recipe, or perhaps in its liquid, less chalky-finishing form, that will prove a great base for experimentation.

Years ago I realized I am a visual eater, one for whom the way in which food is presented can be filling and is as much a part of the meal as the food itself.  And so, part of this chocolate adventure will be the exploration of cups, mugs and ways in which this beverage is served.  The cup and saucer featured here, like the chocolates discussed, is a basic, standard-sized, white china, Corning teacup set.

Hot cocoa. Yeah, that's my perfect cup of tea.

(c) 2011 Valerie Williams-Sanchez

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