Hot chocolate recipe


Unless you're a total beginner, you probably already know how starch tends to settle on the bottom of a cooking pot, soon after you've managed to mix it into the liquid thing going to be cooked.
And you possibly already have your own trick as to how to "boil starch", without getting scorched scales on the bottom of your pot.
It can be done in a double-bottom boiler (= using an intermediate layer of pure water to limit temperature in the inner pot), but if you're handy enough, a simple pot will do - you need to stir the starch diligently at the bottom, until finally the mixture thickens. I myself have a dedicated wooden stirring spoon for this kind of sweet stuff, with a flat end (rather like a spatula), that must not be used for "salty" / meat-based cooking. As I couldn't find an appropriate tool in the shops, I've actually adapted a small oval-end stirring spoon, by sanding the end off with sand paper (#60 granularity). When cooking hot chocolate and other such starch-based or flour-based stuff, I plow the starch systematically off the bottom. I first stir the starch enough into the liquid and only then I "light the gas" (I literally cook on gas in a simple thin-walled cooking pot). And it doesn't get scorched.
Professionals working in cafe's heat their mixtures using a steam jet on the coffee machine - that would very likely work just as well for our recipe, but I couldn't test that, as I don't have one available.

It is generally a good idea to mix the dry ingredients still in their powder form, before you attempt to mix them into the milk (or water - add 70g of dehydrated milk powder per 1/2 liter of pure water). By mixing them while dry, you suppress a natural tendency of some of the ingredients to create blobs when moisturized (AKA anti-caking). Although frankly speaking, it's not strictly necessary with our particular recipe - as all of the ingredients are relatively easy to dissolve even alone. (The classic pure dutch-processed cocoa powder tends to blot/cake a lot, but that doesn't appear among our ingredients. Pure cocoa powder can be made to dissolve more evenly if you mix it with somewhat coarse sugar while still dry.)
Dump the dry mixture into cool milk and mix it as far as it is reasonably willing. The dried milk, especially the high-fat variety, seems slightly hydrophobic and tends to "cake" in cool milk - but if you just keep mixing (to prevent the starch from settling) and turn the heat on, the milky blobs will easily dissolve once the milk reaches a lukewarm temperature.

The trick to use an "instant cocoa" granulated drink is not my own (got it from a colleague). The granulated product has a few advantages over pure cocoa powder: it contains an anti-caking agent (that's what makes the drink "instant"), it contains an appropriate percentage of sugar and salt, and perhaps most importantly, it contains a mellow "flavour and a mixture of spices", which make the resulting chocolate taste much more professional, compared to my earlier trials with just the basic ingredients (pure cocoa + sugar + vanilla) which always "smelled of cow". The Orion/Nestle chocolate factory sure know their trade.
Curiously, this "milk chocolate" recipe tends to taste better than most of the ready-made off-the-shelf hot chocolate powders, including some from the same vendor. Seems to me that those "hot chocolate in a box" products tend to be over-flavoured and over-stuffed with additional supportive chemicals.

The added dehydrated milk boosts the "milky base" of the resulting chocolate, and also adds a bit of sugar. As a result, it's not necessary to add any pure sugar - and I suspect this helps the overall mellow/balanced taste of the resulting chocolate.

The final "thickness" (viscosity) of the boiled chocolate is determined by the quantity of starch in the mixture (surprise, surprise). For comparison, the flavoured pudding powders (sold here in continental Europe) contain 40 grams of starch for 1/2 a liter of milk. If you use 20g of starch per half a liter of milk, the resulting chocolate is rather thin (too liquid). 25 grams might be just allright for most people. 30 grams equals "almost pudding" (but that's the way I like my chocolate :-)

The batch specified above (half a liter) is enough for two chocolate addicts for a hefty breakfast or snack. If meant as a balanced dessert, the batch might be appropriate for four people. I've made an observation that kids can absorb disproportionately high doses, compared to an average adult person, if you try to normalize the dose based on bodily weight.

If you use "canned" whipped cream (in a spray can = driven by compressed gas), make sure that it's made of true cream (rather than some substitute made of vegetable fat - pay attention when shopping) and even true cream from a can will melt rather swiftly in the chocolate heat. If you want to impress you guests/consumers, prepare mechanically whipped cream with added thickener - to produce a spoonful of cream that keeps shape in the cup or glass like an icecream ball and resists the teaspoon.

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