Winter is synonymous with doing everything you are not supposed to do the rest of the year. We fill our bellies with deliciously rich food, drink too much, oversleep, walk around in blankets instead of dressing ourselves and generally laze about because it’s just too damn cold to do anything else. Much of us hit every one of the 7 deadly sins by New Year’s Eve.

Between you and me, just because January 1 has passed doesn’t mean I’ve absolved myself of gluttonous wrongdoing. I’m still in holiday mode. For heaven sakes, it’s still cold outside!

My hands-down go-to wintery indulgence is hot chocolate. And I know, hot chocolate has been done a thousand ways with every possible infusion and addition. How can we possibly do with another hot chocolate recipe?

Well, it’s not about the recipe. It’s not about using cream instead of milk, or adding peppermint or caramel, it’s about the chocolate itself. Just as one can tell the difference between a oversized watery strawberry and a petite deep-red sweet strawberry from a local farm, the same can be done with cocoa.

Cocoa has been viewed as generic. Whatever is on the baking aisle is what we’ll buy. And that may be fine for a Red Velvet Cake. But when chocolate is the star of the show, you need great flippin’ chocolate that is anything but generic.

Easiest way to discern quality and taste is the color. Here’s an example. In the below photo, there are 2 brands of cocoa powder. The darker brown it gets, the higher the quality and stronger the chocolate taste will be. On the left is a the typical unsweetened cocoa powder from your grocer’s baking aisle. On the right, a high-grade pure Dutch-processed cocoa. The difference is night and day.

Some superb options are Green & Blacks Fair Trade Organic Cocoa (UK), Scharffenberger Unsweetened Natural Cocoa (USA) or my personal favorite, Valhrona Dutched Cocoa (France). So when you are ready for an injection of chocolate, simply upgrade your cocoa and get rid of the generic.

Simply Rich Hot Chocolate Recipe

(makes about 6 cups)

1 1/2 c (350ml) whole milk
2 3/4 c (710ml) heavy cream
1 1/8 c (100g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 c (75g) sugar

Combine all in pot. Heat on medium, whisking frequently to prevent scorching and to incorporate cocoa. Once hot, serve!

Totally decadent by itself, but with a shot or two of Bailey’s Irish Cream, you’ll go over the moon. Or perhaps you’d like a marshmallow, maybe one the size of your mug?!?! With a little vanilla and hazelnuts, weather permitting? Recipe is coming soon to make your hot chocolate complete. Sign up for the Nomad feed so you don’t miss it!

Yearning to add another hot beverage to your winter repertoire? Try some boozy Glühwein.

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