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With just a sprinkle from his spice cupboard, Thomas Haas, of Thomas Haas Fine Chocolate & Patisserie, transforms hot chocolate into a worldly treat. Traditional Christmas spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove keep it familiar. Ground chili sings “Feliz Navidad,” while a pinch of fleur de sel, “Joyeaux Noel.” For an adult upgrade mix in fresh-brewed espresso or Bailey’s Irish Cream, or both.
Eleanor Chow, formerly of Chambar, now of soon-to-open Cadeaux in Gastown, starts by making chocolate ganache by combining equal parts chocolate with whipping cream. Next, heat milk on the stove and add orange peel, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and cloves. Let steep on the counter, strain, and add to the chocolate ganache.
At his namesake shop on Alberni Street, Chef Thierry Busset serves velvety dark liquid chocolate enhanced with hazelnut, caramel or Basque chili, to name a few. At home, his secret is simple – use the best ingredients. Begin with good quality dark chocolate, at least 70%, available at Urban Fare or Whole Foods. Stir in a mixture of 1/3 cream and 2/3 milk, heated to just below boiling. For Michelin-star treatment, top with whipped cream flavoured with spices, caramel, or liqueur.
Warm up on a chilly day with this spicy recipe for Oriental Express hot chocolate from Edward Suter of Schokolade. Heat 200ml milk on the stove until warm, add 50g 70% dark chocolate, single origin. Whisk constantly until frothy. Pound 10g fresh young ginger until mushy and stir into the hot chocolate. The longer the ginger steeps in the chocolate, the spicier the drink becomes. Strain and sprinkle with a spice of your choosing.
“At this time of year, it’s especially important to inject a tasty surprise whenever you can,” says Wendy Boys of Cocolico, “like, say, dropping a salted butter caramel into the bottom of your hot chocolate mug.” Use one of her six sauces (at the Cocolico Pop-Up Shop at the LYNNsteven boutique in Gastown until Christmas or at Edible Canada year round). Stir in a dollop of mint & dark chocolate sauce (or peanut butter & dark chocolate or raspberry dark chocolate) to hot milk, top with fresh whipped cream, drizzle with more sauce, and throw in a pretzel stir stick. Just because you can.