When I returned home from my trip there were various pieces of mail eager to grab hold of my attention, but I ignored them all and reached for the one item I had been anticipating the most.
I love flipping through new cook books, cluttering pages with sticky note bookmarks and growing more and more hungry with each flip of the page.
This beautiful book is the work of Alana Chernila - if you wish, you can get better acquainted with her on her site. I read a great many cookbooks. Some great, some good, some not so good. This book, The Homemade Kitchen was one of the good ones. Though the recipes are mouthwatering, it was actually the layout of this book that made me love it.
I like the fact that Alana teaches you how to make pumpkin puree, simple though it may be, and then goes on to teach you how to use it in various recipes. Some sections are as uncomplicated as “How to Make a Salad,” but the concepts are taught well, making this not only a book of recipes, but a tool to improve your kitchen skills.
As I flipped through this book wondering what I would make first, I stopped at one recipe and looked no further; I had found what I was looking for. Spicy Pumpkin Hot Chocolate? Don’t mind if I do.
It’s no secret that I am shamelessly downing every pumpkin-flavored drink I can get my hands on these days. I know, it’s cliche, it’s stereotypical, it’s completely mainstream, but it’s also pretty darn delicious and I have no plans to stop. Though I am no stranger to pumpkin-y beverages, I had never tried pumpkin hot chocolate. After the first sip I was seriously regretting that.
We begin by making pumpkin puree. Yes, homemade. Oh, you brought a can of pumpkin? To be fair, there are times where canned pumpkin puree would be acceptable. However, fresh pumpkin pureed at home is far more flavorful, and since this recipe comes from a book called “The Homemade Kitchen,” and since it specifically calls for homemade pumpkin puree, we are going to use that. (Roasting your own pumpkin also gives you the opportunity to roast up all the seeds you are going to scoop out.) It’s okay, you can save your can for something else…like target practice.
Just find yourself a cute lil’ pumpkin and cut it in half. It goes into the oven and an hour later we are ready to meet the food processor.
Homemade pumpkin puree! Or baby food, depending on how you look at it.
The pumpkin puree meets with steamed milk, a heavy dose of semisweet chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a teeny bit of cayenne. A teeny bit! Like 1/8 of a teaspoon at most.
While we are on this subject, allow me to offer a bit of advice. If you ever get the idea to make spiced hot chocolate in hopes of impressing a gentleman, do not, really, do not go heavy-handed on the cayenne. You could potentially send him into a wild coughing fit, and after that humiliating scene concludes he will explain that it was very good, but could he please have some more water.
I love that this hot chocolate is made in the blender because it's super easy and it also makes the final product really frothy. I love a good frothy top on my hot chocolate.
Isn't that decanter pretty? Would it somehow become less elegant if I told you that I got my hand stuck in it while trying to wash the silly thing? It is really best to pretend like some things never happened.
Alana insists that this hot chocolate be served with a hearty spoonful of whipped cream and I kindly listened. I'm very good at listening when cream is involved.
Freshly pureed pumpkin, milk, chocolate, a bit of sugar, and a handful of spices and here we are, sitting at our desks on a chilly October morning with a beverage that comes straight from the stovetop, rather than a drive-thru window.
This week, buy yourself a of couple pumpkins and start roasting - homemade feels so satisfying.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. As always, all opinions are completely my own.
Spicy Pumpkin Hot Chocolate
serves 4 / recipe adapted from The Homemade Kitchen
for the pumpkin
- 1 medium sugar pie pumpkin (about 1 - 1 1/2 pounds)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Use a large, sharp knife to remove the very top and stem of the pumpkin, then cut the pumpkin into two equal halves. Remove all seeds and strings from the pumpkin with a large spoon. Lay each half flesh-side down on a rimmed* baking pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the flesh is fork tender and the skin has started to blister.
Allow the pumpkin to cool for 15-20 minutes, then use a large spoon to separate the skin from the flesh. Place all the pumpkin in the work bowl of your food processor and pulse for 2-3 minutes, until the puree is smooth. If your pumpkin is too dry and will not become smooth, add several tablespoons of water to help it along.
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use!
*It is important to use a pan with fairly high sides as the pumpkin will release a good amount of water while it cooks.
for the hot chocolate
- 3 cups whole milk
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 1 cup freshly made pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/16-1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
Pour milk into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook just until steaming; do not bring to a boil.
Pour milk into the pitcher of your blender along with the chocolate. Allow to sit for 1-2 minutes, to melt slightly and then add pumpkin, brown sugar, and spices. Blend until smooth.
Depending on the temperature of your pumpkin, the mixture may have cooled down a bit. If so, return it to the saucepan and place over medium heat until it is warm and steaming.
In a large bowl combine heavy whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream until soft peaks form.
Pour the hot chocolate into mugs and top with a generous spoonful of whipped cream. Serve immediately. Enjoy!