Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

I recently had Eric pick up some Vietnamese Extra Fancy Cinnamon from Penzeys Spices. It comes highly recommended by Cook's Illustrated, my cooking gurus. They were right. It's amazingly tasty cinnamon and I've been putting it in everything.

I think my favorite recipe I tried so far has been Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Whipped Cream. I took Paula Dean's Dreamy Creamy Hot Cocoa recipe and tweaked it a bit. I liked it before, but I think I made it even better. And it's still super simple. Hope you all enjoy it too.

Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
1/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean
6 cups hot water
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 to 3 tbsp sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp good cinnamon

Pour the condensed milk into a large sauce pan over medium heat. Sift cocoa powders into pan. Stir together until warmed and looks like hot fudge. (Heating the cocoa powders in the milk intensifies their flavor a bit.)
Add the salt. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the insides. Add it all to the pot.
Slowly whisk in the water.
Continue heating the hot chocolate until it is heated through but not boiling.

While the mixture is heating through, pour the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl (This will keep the cinnamon from clumping in the cream)
Using the whisk attachment, whip the cream on low speed, sprinkling the cinnamon-sugar in while whipping.
Once the cream starts looking frothy, turn speed up to high and beat to stiff peaks.

Ladle hot chocolate into a mug and drop a dollop of whipped cream on top. You can garnish it with a cinnamon stick or shaved chocolate for a pretty presentation.

 - If you don't have a vanilla bean, you can substitute 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Using the whole vanilla bean makes a big difference though.
 - You can use all natural cocoa powder, but the Special Dark cocoa gives it a little more depth of flavor. I found mine at Walmart.
 - For a Mexican-style hot chocolate, a pinch to 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper or chipotle chile powder can be added with the cocoa powders. A pinch is enough for me, it just adds more complexity of flavor.
 - To cut out some calories, I sometimes use fat free condensed milk. Of course fat is flavor, so it tastes less rich, but still good.

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