The most extraordinarily delicious hot chocolate I have ever drunk was served at a teahouse called Angelina’s near the Louvre in Paris. Dubbed chocolat africain, it was so rich you could nearly stand a spoon in it. I am not quite sure how they make it, but I suspect from the density of the drink that the dairy element is heavy cream and, from the impossibly deep flavor, that the chocolate is top quality bittersweet.
Here is my version, with milk replacing the cream. You could serve it on a cold winter’s day as an afternoon pick-me-up or after dinner, spiked with a little liqueur. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can top it off with whipped cream or homemade marshmallows.
1 quart whole milk
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Marshmallows, recipe follows, or whipped cream, optional
Pour the milk into a small saucepan and bring it just to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat, stir in the chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
Serve hot with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired.
Oil the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square nonstick baking pan and dust with some confectioners’ sugar. Tap out any excess. Pour 1/2 cup cold water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer . Sprinkle on 2 envelopes (2 tablespoons) unflavored gelatin and set aside to dissolve for 5 minutes. combine 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon table salt in a large saucepan. Pour in 1/4 cup hot water (115°F) and heat over low heat. Stir just until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil without stirring. Boil until a candy thermometer reads 240°F. Start beating the gelatin mixture, and with the beater in motion, carefully pour in the hot sugar mixture. Beat until thick and very white, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat 2 large pasteurized egg whites or 4 tablespoons Just Whites mixed with 1/4 cup water with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a separate bowl until stiff but not dry. Add to the sugar mixture and beat until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the confectioners’ sugar evenly over the top. Chill, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours and preferably overnight. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and invert onto a cutting surface. Trim the edges with a sharp knife and cut into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with additional confectioners’ sugar. Keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Makes 36 pieces.