With winter approaching fast, thick knitted jumpers, scarves and bobble hats are all being dug out of the wardrobes. As the nights get dark earlier it's important to think about the positives of winter. It's acceptable to put your PJs on as soon as you get back from university, it's considered normal to wrap yourself up in multiple blankets and most importantly, it's fine to indulge in a hot chocolate a few times a week. Whilst a cup of cocoa can be the most indulgent drink possible, if made incorrectly, it can also be a great disappointment. To avoid adding more distress to your cold nights, here are the top 5 ways to make your hot chocolate as lavish as possible.
1. Go all out and use full fat milk and whipped cream
It's important not to focus on the nutritional value of your drink when making this hot chocolate. Whilst it might be full of fat, it is full of rich, creamy flavours. This cup of cocoa is indulgent and can be made even more spectacular by adding shavings of dark chocolate on top of the cream. If it was on Great British Bake Off, it would definitely be a showstopper. Simply replace your normal milk with full fat and whip some cream to dollop on top.
2. Choose melted chocolate over powder
When Felicity Cloake set about trying to find the recipe to the perfect hot chocolate she tried out every combination. She used milk chocolate, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, cornflour, chilli and vanilla. In the end, she decided that a mixture of dark and milk chocolate melted with whole milk and single cream was the winning combination. Instead of using cocoa, the melted chocolate provides a smoothness and level of indulgence that you can't achieve with cocoa powder.
3. Add some flavour!
Whilst it's all well and good to sip away on a cup of cocoa, it's even better when you've got another flavour in there to add a little more excitement to the drink. Jamie Oliver suggests adding a pinch of salt as it enhances the flavour of chocolate. Many hot chocolate fans choose to add a pinch of cinnamon as this adds a slight spiciness to the drink. Nigel Slater chooses to add lavender or cardamom to his cup of cocoa. Choose a flavour that you like and experiment a little. All it means is that you'll have to drink more cups of cocoa.
4. Swap milk for white
If you're a fan of chocolate but prefer the sweeter white stuff as opposed to milk chocolate bars then why not make yourself a white hot chocolate. It'll look like a winter wonderland in the mug and is the perfect winter's drink. Simply replace the milk chocolate or cocoa powder with white chocolate and add a drop of vanilla essence too. This drink may be a little sweeter on the tooth so be prepared.
5. Make it Irish
As the winter months get closer, the temptation to stay in on a Friday night and catch up on Bake Off is much more tempting than going for cocktails in the cold. Next time you're in on a Friday night, why not treat yourself to a hot chocolate with a drop of Baileys, a splash of Frangelico for a nutty hot chocolate, or orange liquor to give you cocoa a sweet kick.
Whilst a classic hot chocolate may suffice sometimes, it's important to make this sweet treat as good as it can be. Try out the above tips to take your cocoa to the next level of indulgence.