Spicy and Sweet

Here is a little something about me: I am an unabashed lover of short-cuts in the kitchen. I don’t really see the problem with jars of pre-made pasta sauces, with ready meals and microwave dinners, with sachets of Cup-a-Soup powder awaiting hot water. When you’re short on time, or don’t know how (read: can’t be bothered) to make something from scratch, they’re absolute life-savers. But there is one thing I will never succumb to: hot chocolate short cuts.

While friends and family expound the benefits (both in time and taste, apparently) of hot chocolate powder mixed with milk or water in the microwave, I really don’t see the appeal. Since discovering a recipe for hot chocolate made from scratch which is, in my humble opinion, both delicious and super-simple, I just don’t see the point. While the ingredients for this Chilli Hot Chocolate treat may come to slightly more than a sachet of Cadbury Options at the supermarket, they’re all pretty much store cupboard ingredients anyway.

What makes this recipe stand out from all other hot chocolates (home-made, pre-mixed and café-bought) is the surprisingly tasty spicy kick the chilli gives the drink, perfectly accenting the creaminess of the chocolate. My recipe doesn’t include the usual pinch of salt which hot chocolate recipes often call for, simply because I think it’s completely unnecessary; I also don’t think it matters one bit what kind of chocolate you use for this. Other recipes call for 70% cocoa, or brands such as Green & Blacks, I like the taste of this with either milk or dark (I once added a few squares of leftover white chocolate, with a surprisingly sweet outcome), and refuse to pay more than 50p for a bar of chocolate I will be melting. Save the Green & Blacks for another time, ladies and gents!

You can, 0f course, leave the chilli out if it doesn’t float your boat, but I think it’s far better left in. Here’s the recipe for my go-to winter-warmer, perfect for broken hearts, movie nights, sleepovers, 11am pick-me-ups …. you name it!

For one large mug, you will need:

– 200 ml milk

– 100ml single cream

– 100g milk or dark chocolate (broken into small chunks)

– 1 red chilli pepper (sliced in half and de-seeded)

Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and heat gently, not allowing to boil. Add the two halves of sliced chilli and the chocolate. Stir gently on a low heat, until the chocolate has completely melted. Use a spoon to remove the two halves of chilli from the pan. Whisk the hot chocolate vigorously to create a nice froth, then pour carefully into a mug.

While I think this is the perfect hot chocolate, you may choose to add some whipped cream or marshmallows to the top of this delicious treat for the ultimate in saccharine luxury. Best served hot and fresh, accompanied by a rom-com featuring Colin Firth.

Of course, there are a million and one different ways to flavour your hot chocolate; this recipe uses chilli pepper for a spicy and sweet outcome, but you could just as easily substitute cinnamon, vanilla, caramel, ginger, hazelnut, brandy, Baileys…. the options are endless!

I hope you all enjoy trying this recipe out, remember to stay safe in the kitchen, and let me know how you get on! xx

Picture source here.

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