I love nothing more than a cup of hot chocolate on a cold morning or a late afternoon. I inherited this trait from my mom, who I honestly don’t think could survive without her daily cup. However, this hot chocolate is a little different from hers, and way more special than anything you’ve had before. I think of it as the ultimate cozy dessert, perfect for those colder months when you can get all snuggled in blankets and cozy up by the fire. Simply top each piping-hot cup with a generous dollop of salted whipped cream and a toasted marshmallow. I think even Santa and his elves would go crazy for this mug of hot chocolate. If you really want to impress him, serve it with a brownie or cookie for dunking.
Ingredients – Serves 2
- 4½ cups whole milk
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
- 2 teaspoons high-quality instant coffee granules (optional)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Flaky sea salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- 2 brownies, store-bought or homemade, for serving
- 2 large marshmallows, store-bought or homemade (recipe follows), toasted, for serving
- In a large saucepan, combine the milk, cocoa powder, chocolate, instant coffee, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat until the milk is scalding, with bubbles forming just around the edges of the pan, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir often to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom or burning.
- Meanwhile, make the whipped cream. In a large bowl using a handheld mixer, whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks. Add the confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt and whip until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- When the hot chocolate is steaming, ladle it into two mugs and dollop with the whipped cream. Serve topped with a warm brownie and a toasted marshmallow. It’s best to use a spoon for this one.
Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows
Ingredients – Makes 12
- 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped out
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons powdered gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup honey
- Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm water and gelatin to combine.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, honey, and ½ cup water. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar has fully dissolved, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to high and bring the syrup to a boil. Cook until the temperature registers 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from heat.
- Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture. Add the vanilla bean seeds. Raise the mixer speed to high and beat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy.
- Working very quickly, use a greased spatula to transfer the marshmallow mixture to the prepared pan. Smooth the top into an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until set, 1 to 2 hours.
- Generously dust the top of the marshmallow with confectioners’ sugar and then invert it onto a clean cutting board. Dust that side with confectioners’ sugar. Cut the marshmallow into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
Find more of Gerard’s recipes at halfbakedharvest.com. Reprinted from Half Baked Harvest Cookbook. Copyright © 2017 by Tieghan Gerard. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.