Tuesday, 27 January 2009
A simple mood picker-upper
Yesterday was just a yucky day, on several levels. But today has a sunny countenance and no wicked west wind to freeze my face off, so I'm taking that as a good sign. I slept relatively well last night (more vivid dreams, but no swords or devils, thank you) and it's amazing, really, what a good cup of coffee will do to elevate one's mood. Illy decaf espresso is my recommended cure for a variety of ills...without it, I truly am trapped in an Escher or worse - Dali - painting for at least an hour every morning.
If I had followed my own advice yesterday and made a fresh pot of coffee instead of warming up some two-day old slop, my day might not have been as nasty as it was. Chalk it up to all the brain cells I lost during the night. If I'd had the strength to rearrange the top shelf of the fridge in order to extricate our giant pitcher of milk, I could also have followed a very simple, tried and true mood picker-upper: Mexican Hot Chocolate.
My Mexican cookbook - purchased in the Chapters bargain bin for $4.99! - was, sadly, lost somewhere in the avalanche of divorce, and I've never found the exact same copy again. But even though I've forgotten the recipe for empanada dough, I was clever enough to memorize the Mexican Hot Chocolate and Margarita recipes.
Making MHC from scratch beats any other HC mix hands down. Plus it's a soothing ritual - unwrapping the squares of chocolate (and eating the little semi-sweet bits that tumble out of the wrappers), whisking the milk, pouring in just the right amount of vanilla and pinching just enough chili powder...it's balm to an injured - or sleepless - soul. Why didn't I think of this yesterday?
Mexican Hot Chocolate
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks ('Cause I doubt you'll find actual Mexican chocolate, although there used to be a good Latino store on King street behind the TD bank in Kitchener near Water St. that sold it...)
- 3 cups whole milk
- pinch chili powder
- splash of vanilla (or use 1/2 a vanilla bean pod, slit open if you want to be fancy)
- 1 cinnamon stick (or a pinch of cinnamon powder)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
1) In a saucepan over medium heat, combine chocolate and milk, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted. Careful not to boil the milk.
2) Add sugar, vanilla, chili and cinnamon stick and stir well for 5 minutes.
3) Remove cinnamon stick (and vanilla pod if using), turn up the heat and stir with a whisk until tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pot. (DO NOT BOIL or this experience will immediately become anything but relaxing.) If you have one of those fancy electric whiskers, those work like a charm.
4) Pour into cups and serve immediately. Adding a splash of real cream or a dollop of whipped cream is nice, but not needed.