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c 1745 Pastel on Parchment 32 ½”x20 ½”
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Germany


Hot Chocolate

Almost every night before I go to bed in the fall and winter I make myself a cup of hot chocolate or cocoa. It is a treat the I started to make for myself since I moved here to the mid-west. Believe me there is nothing like hot chocolate on a cold winter night! Here is another great reason to visit your local Hispanic grocery store. Buy a box of Mexican chocolate. It comes is round disks about the size of a hockey puck. Mexican chocolate is flavored with wonderful spices. Depending on the type you buy can experience a tincture of cinnamon and nutmeg to mild exotic desert grown chilies.for a great rich cup of Mexican hot chocolate simply heat the desired amount of half and half or milk and grate 1/4 - 1/2 of the round of chocolate into a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over a medium low heat stirring constantly until the chocolate has melted into the milk. I always a a large dollop of fresh whipped straight cream, [no sugar or vanilla!] Top with a grating of fresh nutmeg

Chocolate Pot De Creme

I also love a great pot-de-creme. The great thing about a pot-de-creme is that it has all the great elements that I love in a dessert. It has chocolate, it has a creamy texture, and it has just the perfect amount of sweetness to finish-off any meal.
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
5 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch salt
White Chocolate Whipped Cream, recipe follows
Grated chocolate, for garnish
Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Melt the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over gently simmering water. When the chocolate is almost melted, turn off the heat and let stand until completely melted. Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan, scald the cream and milk. Watch carefully as cream will boil over.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until the sugar is completely dissolved. Slowly whisk the hot cream mixture into the yolks. If you add the hot cream mixture too quickly, the egg yolks could cook and leave undesirable cooked egg particles. Remove the melted chocolate from the stove and pour the hot cream mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the melted chocolate. Whisk chocolate and cream until well combined and smooth.
Ladle the mixture into 6 (3/4-cup) ramekins. Lime the bottom of a baking pan with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Place the filled ramekins in the baking dish on the towel. Pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the entire pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Bake until mixture around the edges of the ramekin is firm when lightly shaken, about 35 minutes. (Baking time will vary depending on depth and width of ramekins.) The center of the Pot de Cremes may still jiggle slightly when shaken, but that is okay, it will firm up as it chills.
Carefully remove the ramekins from the baking pan, wipe dry and allow to cool. Once cooled, refrigerate until firm, about 2 to 3 hours.
To serve, spoon some White Chocolate Whipped Cream into the ramekin and garnish with grated chocolate.
White Chocolate Whipped Cream:
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled

Chocolate Fondue

And who doesn't love a fondue? Well, I can't think of one person. I remember that we had a fondue pot when I was a kid. It was the same color as the "flame series" of Le Crousset. From time to time my mother would melt big batches of chocolate and we would use those funny little fork things to goop up liquid heaven on lush squares of moist pound cake. And yes there were plenty of fresh California ripened strawberries, too. Freshly picked of course.

1 pound dark chocolate
1 pound
1 pound white chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces Grand Marnier

Chop each of the chocolate into small pieces, separately. Place each type of chocolate in its own fondue pot. Turn the pot setting to medium or 5. In a saucepan, heat the cream and Grand Marnier. When the cream comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and pour 1/3 over each type of chocolate. Whisk each pot until smooth. Serve the fondue with the garnishes.

Note: One of the greatest things about chocolate fondue is that you can dip anything into it!Try using pretzels, salty potato chips, pound cake, bananas, strawberries... any kind of fresh or dried fruit works well. You can even use specialty breads such and zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, or even muffins. Pound cake is a standard.

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