Saturday, February 11, 2023

Montezuma, Casanova, and Chocolat

Chocolate has long been recognized for it's powers with love! Aztec ruler, Montezuma, was said to have drank up to 50 "flagons" of chocolate a day to allow him to serve his many wives and lovers! Even Casanova, legendary 18th century lover, held strong beliefs in the power of chocolate! In addition to chocolate's caffeine content, it also contains PEA (phenylethylamine), which when combined with our internal stores of amphetamine heightens our sense of love! It's no wonder with chocolate's association with romance, that it would become the basis for Joanne Harris' novel Chocolat, and the charmingly romantic film adaptation Chocolat. (One of my favorites!)

This Valentine's Day, why not surprise your true love with a decadent cup of "Vianne's Spiced Hot Chocolate?" According to Joanne Harris, this recipe from her cookbook My French Kitchen, is THE recipe from the movie! With it's combination of bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and red hot chile, it's guaranteed to excite your senses! Joanne suggests serving it in mugs topped with whipped cream, chocolate curls, or a dash of cognac or Amaretto (my favorite)! You can even make it ahead, store in the refrigerator, and reheat it after a lovely night out! What could be more romantic? Happy Valentine's Day!

Vianne's Spiced Hot Chocolate

Serves 2


1 2/3 cups milk (I use half-and-half.)
1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 hot red chile, stemmed, halved, seeded
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet (70 percent) chocolate (I use Ghiradelli bittersweet chips.)
Brown sugar to taste (about 2 teaspoons, or more to taste)
Whipped cream, chocolate curls, cognac, or Amaretto, to serve


Place the milk in a saucepan, add the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, and chile, and gently bring to a shivering simmer for 1 minute. Grate the chocolate (or add the chips) and whisk it in until it melts. If you must, then add brown sugar, but do try without it. (I prefer some sugar added.) Take off the heat and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes, then remove the vanilla, cinnamon, and chile. Return to the heat and bring gently back to a simmer. (At this point, I recommend straining it to ensure it's silky smooth!) Serve in mugs topped with whipped cream, chocolate curls, or a dash of cognac or Amaretto.

Recipe from My French Kitchen, by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde.

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