Casual Hot Chocolate

We’re already a month into 2021, a year everyone hopes will be vastly better than the last. I don’t think anyone is sad to see 2020 go, although of course it hasn’t been all bad; I found a new appreciation for birds (they’re mostly cute little flying fluff balls that sing, what’s not to like?), for living in such a beautiful place (cliché, but true), and for this happy little baby swimming around inside me (less than a month to go!). I also tried to use any extra time to experiment with new recipes, especially slightly more complex baking recipes that won’t benefit from having a baby to take care of. I made Tartine’s morning buns, cinnamon rolls, sourdough bagels, marshmallows, and panforte, to name a few.

But overall, 2021 is already looking better for me. Obviously, we get to welcome a new human into our lives mid-February, which we are beyond excited for. And once I get my braces off this Friday, you know I will be crunching away on all the things I missed last year, including biscotti, raw carrots, toast crusts, and almonds galore in salads. Oh and one more fantastic thing that already happened in 2021—we got a respectable, competent, and caring person into the White House! What a relief.

Apart from hikes in moss-covered forests, slightly subdued holiday celebrations, and lots of walks around the neighborhood making new cat friends, I’ve been transitioning our office into a baby room. Already it’s such a welcoming place, with plenty of natural light, a comfortable rocking chair, and lots of adorable baby clothes hidden away in the dresser, just waiting for a sweet, warm little body to inhabit them. Last to go will be my desk at the end of this week—I’ll finish out my last week of work at the kitchen table. Time is really speeding by in these last few weeks of pregnancy, which has simultaneously felt like forever and just a blip on our timeline. I will do my best to post before our little nugget arrives, but no promises.

One of my pregnancy vices this winter season has been this casual hot chocolate. It’s a million times better than what you get out of a packet and takes maybe 5 minutes at most to make from start to finish. You can make it your own, depending on whether you want it to be richer (add more cream or chocolate), saltier, or even how much you want to drink (the recipe is based entirely off of the size of your mug). It’s the perfect way to satisfy a sweet craving in no time at all, and it makes the cold weather feel extra cozy. Feel free to substitute an alternative milk for the whole milk.

Casual Hot Chocolate
serves 1 (using a standard mug)

Whole milk
Heavy cream (optional)
Semisweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chunks
Sugar
Cocoa powder
Vanilla extract
Fine sea salt

Measure milk into the mug you intend to drink out of. Add a bit of heavy cream if you want a richer hot chocolate. Make sure to fill your mug either less than, or up to, a half-inch from the brim.

Pour the milk (and cream, if using) into a small pot and turn the heat to medium. Sprinkle a small handful or two of chocolate chips or chunks (roughly 2 tbsp) into the milk, followed by 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp cocoa powder, a dash of vanilla, and a hefty pinch of salt. Whisk to combine, then whisk occasionally until the mixture starts to boil. Whisk vigorously until you’re sure the chocolate has fully melted, then pour it back into your mug. Drink as is, or top with freshly whipped cream or a marshmallow. Enjoy!

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