Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hot cocoa, hot chocolate

So it's snowing. Winter is almost over, but here in New York we're still getting snow dumped on us. What better way to combat the cold than to snuggle up with a cup of steamy hot chocolate... or is it hot cocoa? Contrary to popular belief, hot chocolate and hot cocoa are not the same thing.

Cocoa is processed chocolate. The chocolate is processed with alkali to make a powder. Usually sugar is added right to the powder. If your hot "chocolate" comes out of a packet or is made out of powder, it's hot cocoa.

It's hard to admit this, but my favorite hot cocoa comes from Godiva. They had a great idea to mix hot cocoa with chai powder. Now they've stopped selling that particular variety but all you have to do is find some good chai mix (Bee Train is great) and mix it with the cocoa. You'll thank me for it later. Chocolate Bar also has a great spiced hot cocoa. They sell it at their stores as well as in boxes to take home.

Now on to hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is just that. Chocolate that you heat slowly over a stove to make a liquid. With hot chocolate you usually have to add sugar, vanilla and milk to make the mixture. Some hot chocolate uses sweeter chocolate, so you don't have to add sugar.

Williams-Sonoma has a great hot chocolate that can be made without adding anything except the milk. My favorite hot chocolate is Pierre Marcolini's Madagascar hot chocolate. All it is is shavings from my favorite chocolate of his. You still have to add milk vanilla and a good amount of sugar, but it's amazing. It's also fun to mess around with hot chocolate. Add spices like cayanne pepper (not too much!) and see what happens.

And finally, Ovaltine. I personally would choose to curl up with a cup of Ovaltine on a cold winter's night. (and no they are not paying me for product placement! I really do love this stuff!) Ovaltine is something by itself. It's a malted beverage that was originally designed to give pregnant women their daily nutrients. I fell in love with ovaltine at home. My mom had a big container of it. I'll admit I've actually eaten it straight from the can. I guess you could call it a malted hot cocoa. Whatever it is, it's good. :)


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