Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The stages of hot chocolate addiction - or the search for the perfect cup of cocoa

Hot chocolate might seem like an innocent enough pleasure, until you, like me, find yourself going further and further to reach that sweet chocolatey heaven.  Heed this cautionary tale or you might be next!

Stage 1: Milk, chocolate syrup, the microwave. So simple, it has been mastered by toddlers nationwide.

Stage 2: Boiling water and a packet of cocoa mix. As this stage progresses, sufferers (enjoyers?) may find themselves trying different brands of cocoa mix, trying specialty flavors, adding things like marshmallows, seeking that perfect cup of hot chocolate.  This stage may still seem innocent, even to the outside observer.

Stage 3: Making your own mix. Sooner or later there comes a point where pre-packaged mixes are no longer enough to satisfy the hot chocolate addict. In desperation they turn to recipes for home made mix, such as this one by Alton Brown. With it's distinctly adult flavor of cayenne, the simple hot chocolate turns into a decidedly more adult flavor. From here on out, it's a quick trip downhill as the addiction spirals out of control.

Stage 4: In a desperate bid for more varied flavors, the addict turns to breaking the hot chocolate down into it's base components. Milk is slowly heated on the stove while cocoa powder, sugar (or honey, agave, or maple syrup), and other flavor components like cinnamon or vanilla are mixed together in a mug. The steaming milk is poured in, all is whisked together until frothy and fragrant, and our poor addict sips the concoction down. Still, even this can only satisfy the addict for so long.

Stage 5:  At this point there is no hope for the poor addict. Their fate is sealed. As milky chocolate is no longer strong enough to soothe them, they turn to even darker pleasures. A teaspoon of pero (or instant coffee, I guess) is mixed in a small mug with a tablespoon of high quality cocoa powder, a little honey and a drop of vanilla join them and are mixed into a paste, maybe with a little cayenne, nutmeg, or orange zest, and a few grains of salt added as carefully as a chemist. Boiling water is poured over top, and the mixture is stirred until all is incorporated. This dark, slightly bitter brew, devoid of all the sweet comfort of the beginning cup, must be sipped slowly even by the advanced addict desperate for their hot cocoa fix.

Who knows what steps may lay beyond this one? Gnawing on blocks of baker's cocoa in an alleyway? Selling 'services' behind seedy bars for cocoa powder? Raiding chocolate factories for unsullied beans? Truly, this is a dark path.
So mothers, speak to your children about hot chocolate, before someone else does!

So, maybe this post needs an explaination, but I don't really think I have a good one. Just that... sometimes a girl needs her chocolate... badly. It occurs to her as she mixes it up that she feels a bit like an alchemist, and then when she's drinking her rather unconventional cup of hot chocolate she thinks it would be funny to write a post like this one... though maybe it's just the painkillers talking...
Ok, Enough for tonight. I love you all.


  1. Mmm. Can't say I've thought of hot chocolate much these days with the arrival of summer around here, but we sure enjoyed the warning! :) I still have one bar of chocolate from Guatemala made to be melted into a steaming pan of milk. It's good stuff! I've also been known to slowly eat through entire bags of chocolate chips, you know, for that daily craving for just a little something...

  2. What about the people who lerk thew the jungle looking for bean to ferment

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  4. Hot chocolate is seriously one of my favorites parts of this time of year! I like the part about being an "alchemist" lol ! Pain killers or no pain killers, you're always in good company when you're the holiday alchemist. Another recipe I also like is this one because it incorporates mint and candy canes!!! Yum!


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