ser·en·dip·i·ty (srn-dp-t) n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties – The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
That sums up last night. Shivering on the couch and watching the snow fall outside. Craving chocolate, but there was none in the house. And so I picked up a cookbook and what should come fluttering out but a recipe for Chai Spiced Hot Chocolate.
Oh, yes. I would have been happy with just an ordinary hot chocolate inspiration. But chai spiced? It was too good to pass up. I love chai spiced anything. It tastes like Christmas. But until now, my chai experiences have been mostly limited to Starbucks lattes and Stash tea bags.
As my spice cabinet is overflowing, I was happy to have an excuse to use some cardamom, allspice and peppercorns. Oh yes, you read that right. Pepper. Don’t ask, just go with it. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did.
This is hot chocolate for grown ups. The Beef bourguignon of beef stews, the jamon serrano of cold cuts. You get the idea. This ain’t no Swiss Miss. Tha flavor is chocolaty (hint: use the best quality chocolate you can), but with another depth of flavor, full of ambrosial spice that wakes up your tongue. The aroma is as heady as the taste, vanilla mingling with cinnamon and cardamom.
The original recipe called for ginger whipped cream, but that seemed a bit like gilding the lily. If you’re feeling decadent though, go for it.
Chai Spiced Hot Chocolate
(adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2010)
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/3 cup best quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
5 cardamom pods, cracked
5 whole allspice, cracked
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste
cinnamon stick, broken up
Heat milk over medium high heat and add spices and chocolate. Whisk often as the milk heats and when it is steaming (almost boiling, but not quite), shut off the heat and let the mixture steep for 10 minutes. Pour through a strainer into mugs. Serves 2.