It’s not over until it’s over.
Let’s not call it quits on all the decadence just yet. The holiday spirit is still lingering in the air and for many of us lucky souls, our palates have become so accustomed to sweet treats. It seems that much of the country is experiencing intense weather and plenty of snow. Whether you are recovering from difficult holiday travel or tucked snug inside, my guess is that clutching a mug of spiced cocoa will hit the spot.
The spice mixture I created for this cocoa was inspired by Dutch cookies called speculaas. They have the usual gingerbread spices and sometimes an added bite from a touch white pepper. If you didn’t know the white pepper is in this recipe, you probably wouldn’t guess it by sipping the cocoa. It adds a subtle, additional warmth to the back of your throat.
I intended to make large jars full of this cocoa mix and give it as Christmas gifts but that became one more project heaped on my “didn’t get around to it” pile. Instead, I have had a bowl of the spice mixture on my counter for weeks and have sprinkled it into cocoa and most recently steel cut oatmeal, which was delicious along with a large spoon of brown sugar.
The flavor and quality of this cocoa will be determined entirely by the type of chocolate you buy. Though the price is higher, Callebaut, Valrohna or something comparable will transform this into a decadent sipping experience.
Gingerbread Spice Hot Chocolate Mix
Makes 8 servings
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground all spice
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp finely ground white pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (or regular white sugar), see recipe below
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder (I like Valrohna)
1 cup (about 8 ounces) finely chopped high quality dark, semi-sweet chocolate (I used Callebaut)
Mix everything except the chopped dark chocolate in a bowl with a whisk until well combined. Stir in the dark chocolate until mixed. To make cocoa, stir 1/4 cup of the mixture into 8 ounces of hot milk. Adjust the amount of chocolate you want for weaker or stronger cocoa.
How to Make Vanilla Sugar:
1 whole vanilla bean
2 cups granulated sugar
Put sugar in a bowl. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the insides with a knife. Put the small seeds in the bowl with the sugar. Stir with a whisk to combine until the small black seeds are evenly mixed with the sugar. Put the sugar in an airtight container. Press the vanilla pod into the middle (this will give some extra flavor and aroma). Let the sugar sit for at least 48 hours or ideally, up to 2 weeks. Remove the pod before using.