“This is our place, we make the rules…”
Taylor is once again swirling through my brain on repeat and I am taking her lyric as my inspiration to rewrite the unwritten rules of hot chocolate consumption.
That sentence makes perfect sense to my brain, and that fact is just about as frightening as the truth that I have been relying on Taylor to fuel both my daydreams and rages for the past eleven years.
This is not my first attempt at autumnal hot cocoa, but it is definitely my favorite.
We are opening the spice cabinet and whisking up something extra special. It is the smoothest, most velvety hot chocolate and it’s been steeped with a medley of spices that is unmistakably autumnal but in a fresh, unique way all its own. Meaning, there’s no pumpkin-spicy vibes here. I love when food surprises me and this hot cocoa is one of the most delightfully surprising recipes I’ve ever made.
First, we should talk about the chocolate. Please do not use those yellow-bagged chocolate chips for this recipe. Sure, they make a decent cookie, but considering that chocolate makes up eighty percent of this concoction, we should go for the good stuff. Belgian all the way.
I buy my chocolate in ridiculously large bars from Trader Joe’s. It is not super pricey but the difference will blow you away. Trust me on this, I know my chocolate.
Next, we need to consider our spices. Oranges are obvious, and I think ginger has become more ubiquitous in the modern American kitchen, but cardamom is a bit more elusive. Go to a larger super market that sells whole spices and you should be able to get your hands on a tiny bag of these green pods. Or you could always take the online route - never a bad idea.
I did not add cardamom to my pantry until roughly six years ago, when I began making my own chai, and now I find myself reaching for it fairly frequently. It is to be used sparingly, but it adds an unmistakable nuance to baked goods and spiced drinks.
All of our spices are steeped in the milk, retrieving all of their flavors before they are strained and the spiced milk meets with handfuls of chopped chocolate.
Whisk, pour, and top with far too much whipped cream.
That’s an equation, folks; an equation for happiness.
See you later, pumpkin lattes.
Orange, Ginger & Cardamom Hot Chocolate
4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup freshly grated ginger, peel-on
15 cardamom pods
2, 5-inch pieces of orange zest
8 ounces good quality milk chocolate, chopped (Belgian is best)
whipped cream, for topping
Combine milk, ginger, cardamom pods and orange zest in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.
Once the mixture has reached a simmer, remove from heat and cover. Steep for 10 minutes.
Strain the mixture to remove the spices and return the milk to the saucepan.
Return the pan to medium heat and heat, stirring often, until the milk is steaming. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until the mixture is smooth and velvety.
Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream.