Hot Chocolate

by Jenn on January 25, 2013

in Beverages,Dairy Free,Desserts,Gluten Free,Photography

hot chocolate

I had a post all ready in my mind for the past couple weeks on this quinoa salad I made, our relationship with quinoa, and the effects of its globalization.  It’s a complex issue especially for us gluten free folk who often laud quinoa as the “miracle ‘grain'” for its nutritive value and just the fact that it’s one of the few starches that is naturally ok for GF people to eat.  But that will have to wait a bit.  Actually I’ve had (and still have!) a lot to say the past few weeks that I haven’t been able to type in this space, and I hope you can muster a little more patience for me.  Julia Child once said that no matter what happens in the kitchen, one should never apologize and this blog is a virtual extension of my kitchen, so I am doing my best to refrain from actually apologizing for not posting.  So why the all the pleas and protestations for time?

You see, last month I learned first-hand the perils of baby fingernails.  Babies don’t have the same sense of the “bubble of space” as adults do, and even though we do our best to keep baby girl’s nails short and trim, one evening as I had just picked her up from a nap, she turned quickly and promptly poked her finger in my eye, scratching my cornea. After various hospital trips, etc. I got to be a pirate for a few days with the ever attractive gauze patch taped over my face, and slowly things improved and by about a week later I wasn’t in pain anymore.  We decided to commence with our Christmas plans, and enjoyed a lovely week up in the mountains watching for Santa.



About a week after we got back, yet another day with searing pain in my eye, unable to open it – yep, what had supposedly “healed” in my eye was an open injury again, sent back to take care of it the same way.  And then this week, the same! At least the size of the injury is decreasing so there is progress, but it’s just freaking slow.  Now I know I really have no right to complain about a silly eye injury caused by cute baby fingernails as it really is pretty minor in the scheme of things, but it’s certainly an annoying injury to deal with, considering how much reading/writing I do on a daily basis and umm… seeing in general.  Even though one eye is perfectly fine, it gets exhausting to depend on it solely fairly quickly, and I’m beginning to realize that being crippled for six months was not as annoying as this.  But anyways, enough of my whining. Suffice to say I haven’t had much patience to stare at a screen given the circumstances.  Though actually, writing isn’t a big deal because I’m a total nerd who types with their fingers in the proper places so I can do pretty well with my eyes closed.

So what do you cook when you can’t really see? Simple, you ask your husband to cook!  And how do you take a photograph when you can’t see much besides colors and shapes out of your camera eye? Place your trust in autofocus and shoot wide so you can go in and crop it later.  This is especially useful if you are taking photos down by a lake and you open your pics on your computer finding that the lake horizon is pouring out of your photo at an angle of about 30 degrees. :)

And what do I crave when I’m feeling blue and sorry for myself and my eye? Hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is one of my favorite comfort drinks, and I think a well made hot chocolate can be a decadent treat for dessert  to finish a nice meal.  And no, I’m not talking about the boil water and dump in the packet of mix kind of hot chocolate, but real hot chocolate, made on the stove in a pot, with real chocolate added in.  That’s the kind of hot chocolate we like to make – there are no measurements, and almost no directions, and yet I assure you that this method will give you the perfect mug, every time, because you taste as you go.  It’s also super easy if you want to make something special for say, upcoming Valentine’s Day but are intimidated by more complicated chocolate confections.  Heck, I could make it with one eye, so I know you can do it!

hot chocolate


Hot Chocolate

Prep Time: 5 minutes to chop chocolate, slice and scrape vanilla bean
Total Time: 20 minutes


  • Milk (if using cow’s milk, at least 2% fat) – enough to fill a mug for each person (though dairy free milk works great here, especially rice or almond)
  • Seeds from one half vanilla bean, as well as the bean itself
  • Good quality dark chocolate, chopped – start with about 10 g per person, depending on how rich you want it
  • Good quality cane sugar – don’t use the standard baking sugar, but see out a really nice quality cane or turbinado sugar – it will make a difference.  Amount will be to taste, probably a teaspoon or so per person
  • Pinch of cinnamon (to taste)


  1. On medium-low/medium heat, bring milk and vanilla (seeds and scraped pod) in a pot to steaming, stirring frequently to avoid a film forming on the top (I noticed this film doesn’t form when I use rice or almond milk but it’s a good idea to stir frequently anyways to ensure even slow heating).
  2. Add in dark chocolate while stirring, until all the chocolate is dissolved.  Taste.  If you want more, add in more and repeat until all is dissolved.
  3. Stir in sugar to taste, add cinnamon if desired.
  4. Remove from heat, pour into mugs, top with a marshmallow if you like.  Enjoy!