One of the most annoying food terms that has cropped up in the past few years is drinking chocolate. We used to have a perfectly good word for this...hot chocolate, but apparently, coffee chain marketers thought people wouldn't pay $4-$8 dollars a shot for something they mostly associated with a bag of Carnation or Swiss Miss, so they came up with a new item: drinking chocolate.
I fear that this conjugation will inevitably be expanded. Will fresh-squeezed juice become drinking fruit? Will fine Scotch be dubbed drinking barley? At the cheese counter will I be forced to order some eating milk?
The saddest thing about people buying little cups of drinking chocolate, especially the overly sweet goop at Starbucks (if they even still sell that stuff; I'm not a regular), is that if you happen to own that specialty cooking tool known as a stove, you can make hot chocolate that's better than pretty much anything you pay $8 for at a cafe in Brentwood.
DIY: Hot (Drinking) Chocolate
For about 6 servings, I use 6-9 ounces of good dark chocolate.
Scharffen-Berger is my cooking chocolate of choice, and I usually use equal parts semisweet (62%) and bittersweet (70%), but use the combination and type of chocolate that suits you.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. When it is fully melted and smooth, begin adding milk very slowly while stirring. I usually add it about a quarter-cup at a time and then mix until fully integrated (creating a shiny ganache) before adding more.
Add milk to taste. I like a super-rich drink, so I usually go about two cups of milk, but most people prefer more. Then heat until warm.
Once it's ready, take it off the heat to prevent the chocolate from seizing (separating and becoming an ugly mess).
Serve and enjoy.
Special tip: hot chocolate of this sort is really enhanced by a night in the fridge, which allows the flavors to meld. What you end up with the next morning may seem very thick, but just microwave it or reheat on the burner. In theory, making it a day ahead of time would be a good rule, but in practice, liquid chocolate is hard not to consume immediately.
I've done a lot of hot chocolate experiments, using cream, half & half, and other additives in different proportions, and I've come to believe that just milk and good chocolate makes the ideal cup.
Oh, and remember, this stuff is caffeinated!