Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nuts! Hot Chocolate

There is nothing you cannot do with hot chocolate.

And a Few Peanuts...
With my coat, scarf and gloves on, a few nights ago, I set out the door, destined for Karby's Sweet Treats, in New Jersey.  Trying to call to get shop hours, I learned that the phone number had been changed. Undeterred, I hit my favorite search engine to find an alternative purveyor of the chocolaty stuff. Those that came up were either closed or too far away to make the drive before closing hours. Hmm, what to do? Make my own!
So, into the kitchen I strolled, pondering, searching my taste buds for the taste I was after. Gazing into the refrigerator, recalling my experience at Dylan's Candy Bar, I spied the jars, jars of peanut butter and jelly.
As easy as that, the menu del dia was chosen.
Into a mug of room temperature water, I unceremoniously dumped a heaping tablespoon of chunky peanut butter, and then placed it into the microwave for a couple of minutes. Down and dirty, quick and easy, whipping up this chocolaty brew, I decided against any hoity-toity, liqueur silliness.
"Beep-beep," the microwave sounded. I pulled out the mug and began to stir. Slowly, the butter melted. Into the mixture I added chocolate and another heaping tablespoon, this time of organic apricot preserves and again, I stirred. Then, warm from stirring the cocoa, my spoon cut into fresh-from-the-ice-box cold, cinnamon whipped cream, and piled a Matterhorn-sized scoop of the white stuff atop the creation. Perfection!
Flopping onto the sofa, I slurped down the frothy delight made slightly crunchy, slightly salty, with bits of peanut. Glug, glug, glug, down it went, smooth. Gone in just a few silky swigs, it was as comforting as a grade-school, lunch box, peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Or Even Hazelnuts...
After going comando with the PB& J, yet another blistery cold night has me seeking solace, the solace of a warm beverage.  It's a weekend, so I'm feeling a bit festive. Heading to the pantry, this time the DiSaronno provided the twist that made an otherwise humdrum mug of cocoa worth mention. So subtle a twist, the hazelnut essence melted away like just another sweetener, an equal or Splenda, or teaspoon of sugar. But, was different. No medicine taste there at all, this one, with a modest spritz of chocolate whipped cream in a teacup, was simply delightful.

But those with Almonds...
Nights ago it was peanut butter, yesterday there were hazelnuts and tonight, again, nuttiness was the flavor du jour. This time though, I decide to try out the nuttiness of a TAZA Chocolate product. Chocolate Mexicano, the stone ground & organic discs are chopped or grated, and folded into milk. Opting for the salted almond flavor, my expectations were high for an authentically crafted product.
Sadly, though the discs disappointed this choco-addict.
Mild and slight, the flavor lacked the intensity for which I had hoped and experienced in other traditionally produced products. TAZA's chocolate tablets also lacked creaminess and didn't blend well. Rather that velvet heaven, my blade chopped through a dark brown puck that produced a powdery pile that caked its residue on the surface of the milk in my cup.
Following the adage, "when all else fails, follow the directions," I went on line as suggested, hoping to find cues for some corrective action. I musta done something wrong, right? No remedy was to be found and by all accounts I had prepared it as recommended.
My only mistake, it seemed, ultimately, was in purchasing the product.
Oh nuts!

(c) 2011 Valerie Williams-Sanchez

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