Quick, hot comfort in a glass
It seems that lately I’ve been needing a good share of comfort in the shape of heart-warming foods. I must say the weather here in Kyoto has really been dreary lately, switching from snow to wet snow to rain to just plain drab. Without central heating, only space heaters (because of the inability to install insulation in Japanese houses), it feels colder than it is.
So, it’s time to curl up next to my gas heater in front of my laptop and pamper myself. And I’ve been making this hot chocolate quite regularly. It’s for the calcium, I say to myself. But it’s also a quick and easy chocolate fix.
I based this on a recipe I learned when I was about 8 or so. I was visiting Daddy at the university, and he took me to the campus cafe. I ordered the Mexican hot chocolate. It tasted so good, but I couldn’t guess what was making it so special. Dad urged me to go ask, but I didn’t have the nerve. Thankfully, he understood my curiosity and asked for me, but I was right next to him. It was cinnamon and nutmeg. Ever since then, I’ve usually added those two spices to any cup of hot cocoa I make.
When I was a kid, in my excitement, I often put so much cinnamon and nutmeg in my cup that the spices almost overpowered the cocoa. And since I used the microwave, the spices didn’t dissolve very well at all, floating mostly on the surface. But I’ve learned my lesson… go slowly and have patience.
1 cup milk (I use whole milk, but feel free to use skim, 2%, or soy)
2 tsp sugar
2 heaping tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
a dash each of nutmeg and cinnamon*
Put the milk into a small saucepan over low flame. Add the sugar, cocoa, and spices and heat gently, while whisking the ingredients continuously. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Try not to let it boil, because then you start getting a filmy skin on top of the milk**, but if it starts bubbling around the edges, don’t worry, just turn off the stove quickly and pour the hot chocolate into your mug or heat-resistant glass.
* A dash means less than anything measurable in a spoon. Be careful not to use too much. You only want a hint of spice.
** I have to admit I like the milky film on top. It reminds me of the Dr. Oetker instant pudding I had as a kid.