This recipe is for those who like their hot chocolate simply warming and creamy, as well as those who crave their Scoville (heat-level) units. The extra nod to Mexican cuisine comes from an optional pour-in of heat from a “tea” made from dried chiles. Add a teaspoon at a time until you reach your happy place.
For the chile tea (optional):
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 each of dried ancho, guajillo and small chile de arbol
- 5 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 2 TBS sugar
Bring chiles and water to boil, then simmer until half the water is gone. Remove chiles and discard. Set “tea” water aside.
In another pot, place milk over medium heat with vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks until bubbles form at edges of pan. Do not let it boil. Reduce heat to low and remove vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks.
Add chocolate and sugar. Whisk until dissolved.
Pour into small cups and pass the chile “tea.” Serves 6-8.
Gary: While the normal recommendation is not to pair wine with another liquid, there is absolutely no reason to not try to find a complementary wine to sip along with the hot chocolate or to follow the rich, luscious flavors after you finish your mug. For those who are adding chiles to the beverage, remember that high alcohol brings out heat in foods, so if you want to moderate the burn, look for sweet dessert wines with lower alcohol.
Lower-alcohol dessert wines would include some Ice Wines, German late harvest wines, Moscato, Asti and other sweet sparkling wines. Dessert wines with higher alcohol would include Porto, Madeira, Sherry, Sauternes and Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise.