This is the hot chocolate of tearooms in Paris on cold winter afternoons - the kind of hot chocolate that a spoon stands up in. Some might even call it pudding. The first time that I had the sublime pleasure of this version of hot chocolate was at Angelina in the first arrondisement. It had been raining all day and Paris was the grayest place this California girl had ever seen. As I was wandering down the rue de Rivoli trying to figure out how it was possible to get so depressed in such an amazing city, I remembered the list of 'tearooms' that a friend had given me. Her only note next to the entry for Angelina was 'hot chocolate'. Sounded good to me. I was ushered into a very proper looking dining room, filled with well dressed ladies sipping hot chocolate and nibbling on lovely French patisserie. The hot chocolate arrived in a white porcelain 'hot chocolate' pot with a small bowl of whipped heavy cream on the side. And a pitcher of water. One sip and I knew that this was the cure for my blues.
This first hot chocolate experience was just the beginning of my quest for the perfect cup. I continued to explore Paris. La Maison du Chocolat, 52 rue Francois 1er in the 8th became a favorite. (Forget their tearoom in NYC - too sterile). Even family and friends now offer their suggestions. My husband's favorite is served at Nepenthe in Big Sur, with a shot of bourbon, on stormy January afternoons. My friend S raves about the hot chocolate at the Four Seasons, Milan. A hot weather version, 'Frozen Hot Chocolate' is served at Serendipity in NYC. Best enjoyed after a shopping spree on Madison Avenue with a good friend.
HOT CHOCOLATE FOR ONE
Yield: One serving
1 c low fat milk (or half and half)
2 heaping T cocoa powder (my new favorite is the unsweetened 'Cacao di Pernigotti' from Williams-Sonoma)
1 T sugar
pinch of salt
In a small bowl, stir together ¼ c of the milk (or half and half), cocoa powder, sugar and salt to form a smooth paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk (or half and half).
Place in a small saucepan and heat until it just reaches a simmer, stirring constantly.
Best enjoyed in a heated mug. If you are feeling really decadent, top with slightly whipped heavy cream.