Here’s the thing about this time of year. It’s heartwarming, and exciting, and magical…and exhausting. Because let’s face it, we were a little busy even before we started having to make all those lists and check them twice, right? Don’t get me wrong – I like the holidays as much as the next girl. The holiday music that is on every channel. The cards, especially those photo cards that show friends and family in all their holiday merriment. ALL THE PEPPERMINT.
I love decorating the entire house within an inch of its life. Even those parts that don’t especially love being draped in jingle bells…I just can’t help it.
In addition to all this, my birthday is in the middle of December – and the day after my birthday is theSouthern daughter’s birthday. And the dog’s birthday. (Not kidding about that – it really IS the dog’s birthday.) And six days after that is my anniversary. From now to New Year’s Eve, it’s a merry, action-packed blur of wrapping paper and champagne…and I know you can relate, even without birthdays and anniversaries thrown into the mix. Which brings me to the reason (you knew I had a reason, right??) for this particular post. Sometime amid all the shopping and the wrapping and the baking and the tinsel, take a few minutes and make this for yourself. This is NOT your garden variety cup of hot chocolate. This is the kind of hot chocolate that someone who has been running around like Santa’s head elf deserves. It’s not made with powder, it’s made with milk and bittersweet chocolate and chai spices and brown sugar and fresh ginger. It’s topped with a sweet ginger cream that slowly melts into the chocolate. It’s an amazing, once a year holiday treat that has to be sipped slowly and with your eyes closed.
So give yourself a gift sometime in the next few weeks and make this. Turn your favorite holiday music on low, curl up in your favorite chair, and be quietly merry.
- 4 cups low-fat milk
- 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
- 10 cardamom pods, coarsely cracked (and if you can’t find these, don’t give up! Just use a little cardamom powder, or some extra allspice)
- 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice, cracked
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
- 6 quarter-size slices fresh ginger plus 1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
- 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
- Combine first 6 ingredients, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and ginger slices in medium saucepan. Bring almost to simmer, whisking frequently. Remove from heat; cover and steep 10 minutes. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
- Meanwhile, whisk cream, remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar, grated ginger, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl to peaks. Add more sugar to taste if not sweet enough for your taste.
- Strain hot chocolate. Ladle into 6 mugs. Top each with dollop of ginger cream.
Adapted from Epicurious