The Perfect Hot Chocolate

With the cold weather inbound, if not already with you, its the perfect time for warming drinks. Being a dedicated chocoholic, I love a good mug of rich, velvety hot chocolate.  But there is a method  to making good hot chocolate.  Unfortunately, most of the hot chocolate powders on the supermarket shelves are cocoa powder that has been “dutched”. Dutching is a process that removes  the cocoa fats and with it, that rich melted chocolate flavour and consistency that is the hallmark of a superb hot chocolate. No calorie counting allowed!

So how do you get a really full, satisfying mug of hot chocolate? Read on and get ready to enjoy!

  1. Start with good quality milk; cow’s milk, almond milk and oat milk all work well with chocolate.
  2. Choose your chocolate; look for chocolate that is just that – all chocolate. No added sugars or other powders. Check the percentage of cocoa solids in your choice. The higher the percentage of solids, the richer your drink will be. My favourites are from Hotel Chocolate who’s Classic Hot Chocolate is 70% cocoa solids and their Milky Hot Chocolate that is 50% cocoa solids.
  3. In a pan, bring your milk to a gentle simmer until you see steam rising from it. Don’t allow the milk to boil.
  4. Take the pan off the stove and gradually add the chocolate. Usually two to four heaped teaspoons per mug.
  5. Return the pan to the stove and on medium heat, whisk until all the chocolate has melted.
  6. Pour into a pre-heated mug and garnish (or not) with shaved chocolate, marshmallows, whipped cream or whatever takes your fancy.

Clewley Coppice

A surprising oasis in the middle of a large industrial park that is near us and a favourite area of mine to take Honey on her walks is Clewley Coppice. Part of what was once a vast area of private land with a manor house or something on it a century or so ago.

Its wonderful to see that some of the obviously ancient woodland wasn’t entirely bulldozed down to make room for the industrial park when it was built. There are large grassed areas as well full of plants, ponds and small streams where the local wildlife gather. Its fenced and away from the road that runs through the park so makes an ideal free run space for your dog. The Coppice is spectacular in the Spring when the wood explodes with hundreds of bluebells and again when Autumn arrives and the golds, russets and browns of the season appear.

Regular walks through here are a great way to disconnect from the information overload and general stress that is 2020 and remember that the natural world continues as it always has and is always welcoming, if only you will step into it.