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Winter is my favourite season. I could claim it’s Christmas that makes it so lovely, or the fashion – long leather boots, hats and elegant floor length gowns… But I’d be lying. The real reason I love winter is because I can sit by a roaring fire, listening to the rain lashing the windows, with a good book and a large mug of hot chocolate. Bliss…

I’m fussy about my hot chocolate though, I like it very rich and very dark. If I’m in a hurry, San Cristobal’s rich drinking chocolate is the next best thing to the ritual of slowly melting dark chocolate into the milk.

My favourite spice to add at the moment is cardamom, and three bruised cardamom pods per cup seems to be about right. Pop them in the milk before you start to heat it up, and they’ll have infused nicely by the time you’re ready to drink the hot chocolate. A teaspoon or so of rosewater added right at the end is a lovely variation too – it makes the chocolate taste a little sweeter somehow.

I found this recipe for cardamom and orange hot chocolate today, and it is absolutely ravishing. The orange zest adds a lovely, subtle bitter note.

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