We have had a strange winter this year. It started out so benign, rather warm, and caused a lot of wishful thinking to happen. ‘Perhaps winter would forget about us this year?’ ‘Maybe we’ll get off easy!’ And we were told that El Nino would grace us with a milder than typical winter season. And for the most part, that was the case. Now, I’m in that very small minority that actually wanted to see winter in all its glory. I love snow. I love watching it fall; I love the way the moonlight makes walking in the snow seem like I’m walking on diamond chips; I love the crunchy sound beneath my Sorels; I love seeing trees wearing capes of drippy snow. And I love playing in it. As soon as the weather turns, we try to get our snowshoes and poles and stash them into the back of the car, so that when a forest or field covered with freshly fallen snow confronts us, we can jump out and be the first ones to make prints on the vast nothingness of the snow carpet.
But we didn’t really have that kind of winter here in Toronto, did we? First it was pretty well too warm for any snow that did fall to stick around. And because of where we exist geographically, we missed all the snow that everyone around us got. Barrie and the north got their fair share, London and the Niagara area got dowsed a few times. But we would only get a hint of their realities. Turn on the news, and another storm was hitting NY or Boston. So not fair. And then when Toronto itself did get hit with some impressive snow, we were out west in Vancouver, where Spring was already blooming!! We personally missed it again!
So this week I realized that if I wanted to do any more ‘winter’ cooking: braises, stews, richly layered ‘stick to your ribs’ meat dishes, I better make them soon!! And then I was confronted with the fact that we only had hot chocolate once so far this entire season. Why?? To me hot chocolate will alway mean Paris. Cafe Angelina’s, Laduree. Across the pond, hot chocolate isn’t a bit of powdered cocoa mixed insipidly with milk. This is the real deal. It’s like drinking a melted Lindt bar. Not for the faint of heart. But because of this, it isn’t a weekly occurrence either. Definitely a treat drink. But I do make it less intense than what we had when we travelling. Or else Jim wouldn’t drink it. Got to keep him happy too! So we needed to up the hot cocoa count for this season. As is now my reality, often my inspiration for dishes comes from Instagram. Two nights ago, it was ‘Food Fashion Party‘s IG feed that caused me to jump up and decide I was going to grab the bull by the horns and make us some hot chocolate. She had posted a lovely Mexican hot chocolate she had prepared for her family. I needed to have a bowl of sweet warmth. Naturally Jim was totally in favour of my sudden energy towards melting up some chocolate.
The way this drink came about was this: I happen to have pistachio marshmallows from Pusateri’s, a grand gourmet grocery store sitting in the cupboard waiting to be used. So I thought…pistachio, chocolate…of course: rosewater. As you may have guessed from other posts, I adore pistachio and rosewater, and anything mildly middle eastern or Persian. So I had the pistachio, the rosewater, just needed something ‘adulty’. And I decided on Kahlua. Coffee liquer. It goes so well with chocolate. And it all just worked so wonderfully together. Jim was happy, I was happy. We were doing something wintery, even though we are basically two weeks away from the first official day of spring. Which I won’t mind at all!!
KAHLUA AND ROSEWATER HOT CHOCOLATE
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso or instant coffee powder (optional, but delicious. Will intensify chocolate flavor)
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate , at least 70%, chopped
- 1/4 tsp of rosewater
- 2 ounces of Kahlua
- Oversize marshmallows of your choice: I had pistachio. But raspberry , vanilla, chocolate or even mint ones would work perfectly
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together the whole milk, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and espresso powder until small bubbles appear around edges. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
Remove from saucepan from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted, returning the sauce to low heat if needed for the chocolate to melt completely. Add the rosewater and Kahlua.
Pour into two bowls. Top with marshmallows. You could also garnish with fresh edible flowers, cocoa nibs, grated chocolate, chopped mint etc.
Extra can be cooled and stored in the fridge. But why!?
Do not use chocolate chips for this- they won't melt as nicely. Splurge with Ghirardelli or Callebaut chocolate bars or Valrhona melting chocolate.
You can (and I have) replace the milk and cream with Almond milk; or replace the cream with coconut milk (from a can) It will still taste amazing.
Feel free to switch out the liquor or liquer with Baileys or Frangelico etc. Or even Bourbon!