Up until a few days ago, the best hot chocolate I’d ever had was in Spain. My junior year of college I studied abroad in Europe and did some traveling while I was there, and since I’m mildly obsessed with planning, I spent much of my free time reading guidebooks and travel guides about the various cities we were planning to visit. Before we arrived in Barcelona, I remember reading about this little chocolate shop called Cacao Sampaka, and how their rich and decadent hot chocolates could not be rivaled by even the finest and most renowned chocolatiers. So of course, I had to go.
I walked in and the first thing that hit me was the smell. That buttery, nutty, cocoa smell. It was hard to decide on which cocoa to order (they even had a spicy one!) but I love dark chocolate so I went with the version that had the highest percentage of cacao. Several minutes later they brought out a mug of very, very dark and thick liquid. It was not piping hot, but it was warmer than warm, and I leaned forward and took a sip of the richest, most chocolatey hot chocolate I’d ever had. After I inhaled my drink, I wandered around the store in a fuzzy chocolate high and ended up purchasing much more chocolate than my budget at the time realistically allowed. While browsing the shelves I noticed that they sold teensy chocolate chips that were to be melted down and mixed with a bit of milk to make their hot chocolate at home, and that’s when I realized what made that hot chocolate so good. It was literally mostly melted chocolate.
At the time I didn’t buy that little bag of chocolate chips, but I’ve been wanting to recreate that hot chocolate for years now. During these past few winter months I’ve found myself craving chocolate even more often than I normally do, so I decided that this was the moment to carpe socolata, aka seize the chocolate. I melted down some baker’s chocolate in the top of a double boiler, whisked in some honey and hot milk, and topped it with a sea salt chocolate whipped cream. (Yep, I put chocolate in the whipped cream, too. And it was AMAZING.) The hot chocolate slowly melted the bottom of the whipped cream island and made the whole drink slightly salty. The melted chocolate added the best thick and velvety texture, and created a richness and intensity of flavor that you just cannot get from using a powdered cocoa base.
The best part is that it takes all of 15 minutes to throw together, and most of that time is spend standing by the mixer while the liquid cream becomes whipped cream. I made them on two occasions this past weekend because they were just that darn good. The recipe below makes two servings of hot chocolate, it is very rich so I kept the portions small (think espresso cup size). But, if you’re especially hungry you can feel free to double it and ingest a wonderfully decadent amount of chocolate.
2 Squares (1 ounce) Semi-Sweet Baker’s Chocolate
2-4 teaspoons honey, depending on how sweet or bitter you like your chocolate
Begin by preparing the sea salt whipped cream. Beat the cream and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at medium high speed until the cream holds a very soft peak. Gently whisk in the sea salt and cocoa powder until incorporated. Cover and set aside.
To make the hot cocoa, melt down the chocolate pieces in the top of a double boiler, stirring constantly. Add the honey and milk and continue stirring until it’s one fluid mixture and becomes very warm. Evenly distribute the cocoa between two serving glasses and top with the whipped cream and a pinch of sea salt for garnish. Serve immediately.