By John Houser III, Special To The Baltimore Sun
2:52 PM EST, December 22, 2011
While the weather forecast for Saturdays' Ravens game is in the high 40s — not exactly Green Bay territory — it can get chilly after being outside for a while. One of the best ways to keep the cold at bay is with a cup of spicy hot chocolate.
Traditionally, hot chocolate is just a thicker version of chocolate milk. This version is rich and full of character, thanks to cinnamon, orange peel and chiles. Don't be afraid — it's not as spicy as you might think. There is a little bite at the end, but nothing that will make you breathe fire.
Arbol chiles add the heat, while the ancho adds a fruity, almost raisin-like flavor. The orange and cinnamon give the drink that little hint of holiday cheer, and for the full effect, a peppermint stick can be used as a stir to add as much minty goodness as you desire.
This is a more grown-up version of hot chocolate — far removed from that powdered stuff. A shot of dark rum or good brandy helps fortify an already warming drink. Just be sure you make enough to go around.
Spicy hot chocolate
20 ounces 70 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate*
1 cinnamon stick
2 arbol chiles
2 ancho chiles
3 pints whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
Peel of 1 orange — use a vegetable peeler to create big strips that can be strained out.
Peppermint sticks for stirring (optional)
*This recipe was made with two 10-ounce chocolate bars, finely chopped with a serrated bread knife. If you want to use chocolate chips, it will make no difference, as long as they are 70 percent cacao.
Prepare the chiles by using pair of kitchen shears or clean scissors to snip off the stem end and cut down one side of the chile. Spread open the chile and bang or scrape out the seeds.
Place the milk, cinnamon stick, all chiles and orange peel into a large pot. Cover with a lid and bring the mixture up to a simmer. Then, turn off the heat and let it steep for 10 minutes.
Place the chopped chocolate (or chips) into a large bowl.
Strain the hot milk onto the chocolate. Whisk until combined.
Whisk in the cream.
Pour into a cup and serve immediately with a peppermint stick for a stir.
If you happen to have leftover hot chocolate that has been refrigerated, remember to stir or whisk before serving. Cheers!
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