Spiced Hot Chocolate

The weather outside is frightful. No! Make that 'delightful'. Well, its raining here in the U.A.E since yesterday and its too cold for my liking. However, its wonderful to watch the rain from my window and it reminds me so much of the monsoons back home in India. I was pretty miserable yesterday  because the cold weather never appeals to me. I am more of a warm weather person. Ask me to pick between the mountains and the beach and you know what my answer will be. 

Anyway, yesterday I was rummaging through the million recipe cuttings I have gathered ever since I came to the UAE and I found 3 recipes for hot chocolate that looked absolutely delicious and so inviting that I just ran to make it. Since the husband is not a chocolate person at all, I embarked upon this journey with the sole excuse that the son needs to have something nice and delicious when the weather outside was so bleary and dull.
This was going to be an adapted version of all the 3 recipes, two of which appeared in the Friday magazine and one was from a compilation of recipes that came with a blender. I crossed my fingers as the outcome was very chocolatey and like most kids, my little fellow doesn't like an overdose of chocolate. That too with a heady aroma of Indian spices! Well well, what I had just concocted was supposed to be Aztec style hot cocoa with no milk and loads of unsweetened cocoa. I couldn't go beyond a sip and I franctically started to add a bit of this and a heap of that. The final outcome was quite nice and the sonny boy enjoyed every bit of it. I am happy that at least someone gets to say that his mommy made him hot chocolate from scratch when he was a child. When I was little, the only hot chocolate I enjoyed was Bournvita, cuz even Horlicks came in the plain Jane flavour. Then came Nestle Milo which for some reason we never brought frequently and loyalties never shifted from Bournvita. Those who had ties abroad were lucky to get a bottle of Ovaltine which was enjoyed by the whole family and was used to make desserts too. So yeah, I see myself making many a mug of hot chocolate in the days to come. Or as long as the winter lasts here in the UAE. The only catch is that the cream and chocolate business is not so great for my waistline, so maybe I'll just be the taster and pass on the real deal to my son, what say?

As you sip through this drink you will notice that it is not light in consistency because there is cream and chocolate added to it but at the same time it doesn't taste so rich that you can't drink beyond a couple of gulps. This is a recipe that you can play with. Add more sugar if you like it sweeter. Skip the cream if you can't find it or don't want to pile on the extra calories. Add more of milk instead. If you are the strong black coffee lover types then drink it Aztec style - with no milk but with a pinch of chilli. I am sure you will love it. 

Although I have mentioned it as hot chocolate, yesterday's leftover chocolate tasted so amazing when chilled that I had to change my mind. It tastes awesome - hot or cold. Yum!

Spiced Hot Chocolate
Prep time: 5 mins | Brewing time: 5 mins | Yield 4 cups


1. In a saucepan bring the water and milk to a simmer and add the cocoa and sugar. Continue to simmer for 2 minutes.
2. Toss in the cinnamon sticks, cardamom and cloves, chopped dark chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted. Add in half of the cream and whisk so that no lumps remain. Do a quick taste check. If you need more sugar, add it now. Add the nutmeg and allspice powders, simmer for another half a minute and remove from heat.
3. Strain into heatproof mugs and top with the remaining cream that has been whipped with an electric whisk (if you need it fluffy) or simply with a fork. You can make your own pretty design by gently stirring the cream.
4. Dust with cocoa if desired and serve hot, warm or chilled. Tastes great anyway.

1. This drink is not very sweet and not too rich either because of a water & milk combination that is used to brew the cocoa instead of only milk as most  recipes suggest. If you wish to make it more milky then just use milk and skip the water.
2. You can use any cream, fresh (with a shorter shelf life like Al-Marai in the UAE or slightly longer shelf life like Amul Fresh Cream in India. I used tinned heavy cream by Nestle.
3. Allspice is a kind of spice that looks like peppercorns. It is not to be confused with a spice blend of all spices put together like garam masala. Allspice is popular down South India but is pretty expensive. You may skip it or substitute with any warm spice of your choice.
4. To give the chocolate drink a kick you can add a tiny pinch of hot spice like chilli powder or flakes, freshly ground coarse pepper or even dried ginger. Make sure it doesn't taste too spicy especially if you are serving it to kids.
5. Use good quality dark chocolate - as dark as you prefer. I used 52% cocoa, I dared not go beyond this! Use milk chocolate if you like. 

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