It's autumn which I love most of the time. I took the photo above when I got up very early one morning and couldn't resist hauling the camera through the damp, dew-soaked grass to look at the sun pouring through the branches. It was cold and my breath misted and I love it.
But sometimes, autumn can feel a bit snivelly. A big shout out to all my fellow cold-sufferers! The usual round of autumn snuffles are going around and I have succumbed. So I need reminding that autumn isn't all about dark nights, darker mornings and ...er...drippy noses.
And that's where the hot chocolate comes it. It's my own recipe that I made over and over again in my first year teaching when I would totter in, exhausted after a long day and curl up for half an hour to myself with a teacup full of delicious chocolate silk. Yum! I made it so many times that I perfected it to my own taste and I made it today for the first time this autumn. I felt the need.
If you'd care to join me in a cup, here's the recipe. The quantities are not exact but I think making really lovely hot chocolate is about catering to your own indulgence as much as anything. And this isn't the quick, instant, whack-in-the-microwave kind of chocolate, but it is the baby-it's-cold-outside kind. I hope you like it :D
You will need...
1 tsp cocoa powder (the real stuff for proper flavour)
A couple of squares of Chocolate
1 tsp cornflour
Marshmallows of the mini variety (absolutely not optional)
White Chocolate (ditto)
Glitter. Of the edible variety. If you absolutely have to, you can miss this out.
I always make mine in a teacup because this stuff is thick and filling and wondrously sweet and believe me, you won't want a whole mugful. I fill the teacup about three quarters full of milk and then tip a little of it into a small pan. I whisk the cocoa powder into this to form a paste and then tip in most of the remaining milk. Whisk it together and let it warm gently on the hob over a low heat.
Meanwhile, stir the cornflour into the last dribble of milk until it forms a paste.
Once the milky cocoa mixture is hot, chuck in the chocolate and take it off the heat. The heat of the milk will melt the chocolate and after a couple of minutes, give it a stir to make sure all the chocolate is combined. The smaller your squares of chocolate, the quicker this will be.
Add a pinch of ground cinnamon and a drop of vanilla to flavour and then stir in the cornflour paste. Return the whole lot to the hob and heat gently, stirring occasionally. The cornflour will cause the hot chocolate to thicken as it starts to boil. Keep stirring to avoid it all sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When it's piping hot and thickened up a bit, it's ready. Now for the important bit.
Put the marshmallows in the bottom of your cup and pour the steaming hot chocolate over them. That way, they melt properly, going all gooey on the inside, and each one will develop a little halo of lovely smooth meltyness. They will bob to the top and then I sprinkle on little chunks of white chocolate and top with edible glitter.
You'll need a spoon. I'm just saying.
P.S. Make someone else do the washing up.