Hot Chocolate from Paris

12 Dec

Illustration by Sara Pinto

I had the most extraordinary hot chocolate of my life more than 30 years ago in Paris.  I am not alone as Angelina’s, located at 226 Rue de Rivoli in the first arrondissement, is where tout le monde (everybody) goes for their favorite hot chocolate.  It is like eating a molten candy bar, so thick you can barely stir it; so rich, one serving had best serve two.  It is a curious thing to drink in the morning and begs for a cup of hot coffee…or a nap… immediately after.  And so I recommend it après (after) a visit to the Louvre, rather than before.  And speaking of après, there would be no better time to drink it than après-ski. The mere idea of hot chocolate conjures up wintery days, holiday spirits, and general good feelings.  It is the ultimate comfort food for some, the holy grail for others.

Chocolate, in the form of a drink, was discovered in Mexico then brought to Europe by the Spanish.  In 1615, according to Larousse Gastronomique, Ann of Austria introduced this novelty to the French court, and her maids of honor circulated the recipe.  In 1670 Paris, there was only one chocolate merchant, but an edict issued in 1705 allowed cafe owners to sell chocolate ‘by the cup.’  In Louis XV’s time, hot chocolate became a way of life and was served at collations (light meals), drunk at breakfast, and sipped with the afternoon snack.

The recipe that follows comes from my good friend Dorie Greenspan who lives in Paris part of the year.  (Dorie recently authored a wonderful book called “Around My French Table” — c’est marveilleux!)  Dorie shared her version with me so that I could include it in Kids Cook 1-2-3 (written in 2006 for Bloomsbury.)  Quite appropriate as the perfect recipe for hot chocolate has only three ingredients.  Can you guess what they are?

Voila!  Hot Chocolate From Paris:  especially wonderful on cold winter mornings when you’re still in your pj’s.

Hot Chocolate From Paris
7 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate
3 cups whole milk
5 tablespoons sugar

Chop the chocolate in small pieces and set aside.  Put the milk, sugar, and 1/3 cup water in a large saucepan.  Bring just to a boil.  Remove from the heat and, using a wire whisk, whisk in the chocolate.  Whisk briefly until thick and smooth.  You can serve as is or whip up as follows, as Dorie suggests.  If you have an immersion blender, use it to whip the hot chocolate in the saucepan.  Or carefully transfer the mixture to a blender and whip on high speed for 30 seconds.  Place the top a bit askew with a towel on top so that the hot air can escape.  Be careful as you do this.  Serve hot.  Serve 4

One Response to “Hot Chocolate from Paris”

  1. John Currie December 13, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    Oh, Rozanne, the memories which you have evoked! Angelina’s is one of my truly most delightful spots in Paris. Their freshly made pot of l’Africaine, thick and rich and definitely not too sweet, accompanied by a silver bowl of dense whipped cream an a bowl of several sugars––what heaven! I always make a point of taking a new Parisian visitor there for mid-morning chocolate. And they always want to return again later.

    Years ago, when visiting Paris by myself, I stopped in and ordered a pot for myself. My waitress asked me, quite politely, if I wished for any pastry to accompany it. When I said, “yes,” an asked for a pain au chocolate––a heavenly croissant filled with dark chocolate––she frowned an said, “Non––trops de chocolate.” Too much chocolate. So that was that. She simply stood there and waited for me to order something else.

    Thanks for the smiles brought on this snow-bound morning. And for the recipe that may allow me to approach heaven from my kitchen!

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