A few years ago I was lucky enough to go to a cooking class taught by the amazing Emily Luchetti, Executive Pastry Chef of Farallon and Waterbar restaurants, San Francisco. Not only is she an absolutely delightful person, she is one of the most talented pastry chefs in the country. When you see her in action, she makes everything seem so easy. I kept saying, “I can do that” throughout the whole class. Everything was delicious, but her opening salvo was the most incredible hot chocolate I have ever had. Combining three different types of chocolate with just the right amount of sugar, it had every one of us swooning with delight. Have you seen the movie “The Santa Clause”? There is a scene in it where the elf Judy is telling Santa about her hundred years old recipe for hot cocoa … “not too hot, not too sweet, just right.” That is how I feel about Emily’s hot chocolate!
This is not your ordinary hot chocolate. It is more like a pourable pudding or slightly thinned ganache. It has an incredible depth of chocolate flavor from the blending of chocolates and cocoa and an unbelievable creaminess that comes from the heavy cream and white chocolate. The bitter cocoa takes the edge off the sweetness making this something you will dream about for years to come. As Emily says, this isn’t for lightweights who prefer a mild-flavored hot chocolate!
Today I am sharing it with you plus a few tweaks of my own. I know, you’re saying, is there anything she doesn’t mess with? The short answer is no – I tend to put my spin on just about everything I make. I can’t help it, it must be the creative gene in me, LOL! In this case, I am trying to recapture my youth – the days we spent snow skiing at Lake Tahoe and the nights gathered around the fire sipping hot chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps! For an adult version, you can add the alcohol to the cocoa if you like. The only thing you’ll be missing is the aching muscles and sunburned face!
The original recipe is in Emily’s cookbook, A Passion For Desserts. Running the gamut from simple, traditional desserts to high-end, knock your socks off presentations, this book will make you a better baker and garner you rounds of applause from family and friends. Just like in her classes, she has the ability to explain things so that you have the confidence to try challenging recipes. In addition to her cookbooks, you can also follow her blog. It would make the perfect holiday gift for the food lovers, cooks, and bakers in your life!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Add a splash of liqueurs to coffee, hot chocolate, or other drinks to elevate them to cult status. I like to keep a small assortment on hand. Served over ice, they can be refreshing cocktails or you can use them in mixed drinks. When lightly added to desserts, there is a hint of something that people can’t quite put their finger on, but love!
- 1-1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1-1/2 cups whole milk
- 11 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
- 5 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
- 3/4 oz (half a jigger) Peppermint Schnapps, optional
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream
- Crushed peppermint candies or coarse red sugar, for garnish
- Candy Canes, for garnish
- In a medium saucepan, scald the cream and milk over medium heat, stirring frequently, until hot and bubbling around the edges, but not boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the white and milk chocolates, salt, and cocoa powder. Let sit for 15 minutes to melt, and then whisk until smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract - you can use more if you love it!
- Pour into coffee cups and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle with crushed peppermints or red sugar and hook a candy cane of the edge of the mug for stirring. Serve immediately.
- You can make this up to several days in advance. Refrigerate until ready to serve, and then reheat over indirect heat in a double boiler, or in the microwave. Stir until smooth and serve.
- Yield: about 6 (1-cup) servings