One of my favorite Saturdays in recent memory was back in September when Adam and I went hiking with my sister and her boyfriend at Occoneechee Mountain in Hillsborough. It wasn't a particularly long or strenuous hiking trail, but it was wooded and pretty and cool, and at the summit we stood and felt accomplished.
Afterwards, we walked through a historic neighborhood to find a local barbecue place for lunch and then meandered around downtown. We stumbled into a carefully curated book store and wandered some more until we found Matthew's Chocolates, a teeny chocolate store and cafe with unique truffles and candies, enormous homemade marshmallows, and the most delicious Mexican hot chocolate I have ever had.
The weather had just enough chill in the air to justify hot chocolate, and Adam and I decided to split one. Ordinarily, I like my spicy separate from my sweet, so I was hesitant about ordering the Mexican variety, but my sister insisted. After one sip, I regretted having to share it.
The spice was subtle but brought out the depth of the chocolate flavor. Each sip was sweet, yet slightly exotic, and immensely comforting. It instantly became a powerful food memory for me, most likely because of the invigorating morning hike, the charm of the downtown, and the fact that I was with some of my favorite people.
I've done my best to recreate that hot chocolate for you here. I chose to use a crock pot because I wanted the spices to have some time to meld with the milk and chocolate, although you could make this more quickly on the stove top if you like. Just be sure to keep the heat on low so as not to burn the chocolate.
I'm hoping sipping on this will bring me some comfort on long nights of studying this week. Finals are here, and I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how stressed I am. BUT, I'm also excited because a dear friend is doing a guest post next week.
For those of you lucky enough to not be studying, this hot chocolate would be lovely to serve at a holiday party or just to sip on while decorating, wrapping, or other festive things.
Happy December, friends!
Creamy Mexican Hot Chocolate (in the crock pot)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free)
5 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
scant 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp chili powder
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
pinch of salt
fresh whipped cream
extra chocolate chips
cinnamon sticks, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in the crock pot.
Cook on low for 2 hours. (Be careful not to allow it to become TOO hot or the chocolate will become lumpy)
Taste and adjust spices as desired
Pour into mugs and enjoy!
Makes about 5-6 servings.
Extra can be stored in the fridge and reheated in the microwave.
Inspired by Better Homes & Gardens and Gimme Some Oven.