Monday, January 31, 2011

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Hot Cocoa for a Chilly Morning

Back when I was a cheesemonger in South Philadelphia, the walk to work in mornings was brutal in the depth of winter. Not "could be," not "sometimes." Was. The wind would find every little gap in my scarf and blow suddenly down my back. My thighs ached with the cold. Snow — invariably, there was snow — was frozen solid at 6:40am, no matter how much of it had melted the day before, and sidewalk salt and ice wormed into my boots and turned into clammy brine even before I made it the ten blocks to work.

En route, I stopped at a corner joint the cheesemongers called Chinese Coffee. I forget its real name. To us, it was, and always will be, Chinese Coffee. Most winter days I got hot tea to warm me the last few blocks to work. Occasionally, there was a donut. On the really horrible days — the days I had to walk backwards to keep out the worst of the howling wind — I got hot cocoa.

It was a reward to myself for merely existing in such weather. The biggest they had. 20 ounces. Just enough to get me to work and last through the initial setup. When one of the bakeries delivered fresh bread so hot it hurt to hold, we would break one open and savor the steam and aroma. The Italian guys would eat it plain or dip it into a bit of olive oil with sea salt.

Me? I'd pull off little chunks of hot bread and dip in my cocoa for that last little push of inspiration before we raised the blinds and let in the customers stamping their feet and rubbing their hands together, trying to find their own warm places.

San Diego mornings are nothing like that, but I keep a jar of cocoa mix in the pantry for those days when there's a definite bite in the air. Today was one of those days.
9th Street Hot Cocoa Mix

2 c/300g 10X (confectioner's) sugar
1 c/100g cocoa powder
2.5 c/300g full-fat powdered milk
1 tsp fine-grain salt
2 tsp cornstarch

Sift all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Store in a cool, dark place.

To make a cup of hot cocoa, fill a mug 1/3 full with the mix, then top off with either boiling water or hot milk. Stir to combine. 

Goes well with:
  • Chartreuse Hot Chocolate — I'd actually use a higher-grade, full-on chocolate for the spiked version, but it's one more way to get through a hard morning. Or night.


Anonymous said...

love the hsot of Mello Joy coffee cup, that warms my poor ole Lousiana diaspora heart.

Matthew Rowley said...

Aw, I'm glad the Mello Joy warms you, even if it's just a picture. I pluck down mugs depending on my moods. Today I'm slammed with work, but my mind is on Acadiana and I'm craving a dish of white beans and andouille.