Forecast: White Hot, Chile and Chocolately

Another day of heavy snow (and sleet, and rain, and snow again) in New York. There’s only one way to deal with this kind of wintry mix: hot chocolate.

As a kid, my best friend’s mom would greet us with hot chocolate after school on days when there was a fresh snowfall. It was a small but heartwarming gesture that seemed all the more magical because she actually made hot cocoa in a pan on the stovetop, and didn’t just open a packet of Swiss Miss. Hers was made with the good-old tin of Hersey’s cocoa, but here’s a couple other ideas to keep the tradition going, no matter how late everyone’s day ends.

Mexican Hot Chocolate, made by heating milk with a Mexican sweet chocolate like the Ibarra brand. You’ll usually find it on a bottom shelf in the international aisle at the grocery, its trademark red-and-yellow hexagonal box looking somewhat dusty and forlorn. Don’t be discouraged by outward appearances. And don’t be dismayed that the wrapped chocolate wafers inside look a bit the same. This is a different animal than the glossy, shiny chocolate bars we’re used to.  The chocolate wafers are blended with cinnamon and a coarse sugar, so the mixing is done for you. But the true magic of a Mexican Hot Chocolate is the froth. After the milk is heated, whip it with an immersion or regular blender to a heady frothiness that makes it seem all the more creamy.  Can’t find Mexican chocolate? Try adding some cinnamon and a bit of chile powder (cayenne or ancho chile powder work well) to your regular hot chocolate.

Or, for an adult treat by the fireplace, try a Hot White Chocolate. It’s a great way to use up some of those white chocolate chips that are hanging around from the holidays. For a variation, swap out the vanilla vodka with regular and add some peppermint extract.

Then sit back and let it snow.

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