I was embarking on an ambitious two-day preparation of the chocolate raspberry cake from “La Maison du Chocolat”. I should have taken a hint when I was having trouble finding raspberries from the supermarket and realize that the day did not seem right to make it. Anyway I forged ahead, and around 10 pm that night, I realized that either the recipe was lacking an ingredient or instruction ;or I simply am so amateur a baker that I could not read between the lines. It is probably the latter. I surveyed the mess that I have perpetrated on my test kitchen; chocolate drips here, ground almonds there pots, pans and measuring cups everywhere. No wonder the “hungry hubby”, upon checking in on me decided that he was sleepy and needed to call it a day. Meanwhile, I stood there in the middle of my kitchen, frustrated, dejected and tired. My sister-in-law, who was visiting, helped me clean up (bless her heart). Okay now it is 11 pm should I just retreat into the night a failure? I reached for Sherry Yard’s “ The Secrets of Baking”. What I needed right now was a strong shot of hot chocolate and I knew exactly which one I wanted to make. The “Campton Place Hot Chocolate”, hailed in San Francisco as a hot chocolate elixir, is simply a decadent, thick chocolate drink. This is not your ordinary hot chocolate. It does involve a brief whisk of the immersion blender to get it wonderfully thick but it is relatively simple to make.
2 cups whole milk
½ cup cream
2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 recipe Master Ganache (to follow)
½ tsp. Tia Maria or vanilla extract
Whipped cream (optional)
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 cup cream
To prepare the Ganache
1. Finely chop the chocolate and put it on a heatproof bowl. Do not leave big chunks since this will not melt properly.
2. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boiling means the cream should actually rise up in the pan and threaten to boil over.
3. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate. Tap the bowl on the counter to settle the chocolate into the cream, and then let it sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir in a circular motion, starting from the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Be careful not to add too much air to the ganache. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. It may look done after 1 minute of stirring, but keep on going until you are sure that it is emulsified.
For the Hot Chocolate
1. Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk or blend with an immersion blender to dissolve. Remove from the heat and add the ganache. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir until well combined, about 4 minutes. Stir in the Tia Maria or vanilla.
2. Serve the hot chocolate right away as is or store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It can be reheated on the stovetop or the microwave. If you wish, top with whipped cream or chocolate shavings.
I found that serving the hot chocolate in espresso cup sizes are more than enough rather than the eight-ounce cups that the recipe recommends. This is not a chocolate that you gulp, rather it is a sipping chocolate meant to be savored. So, did I retire that night dejected? Definitely not! There is some truth to the fact that chocolate, also considered “food of the gods”, is a powerful cure all; and for the occasional test kitchen disasters this is exactly what the doctor ordered.