Published January 1, 1997.
Cook Dutch-processed cocoa briefly with water before adding milk.
Hot cocoa made according to the ubiquitous "back-of-the-box" recipe is weak and thin. Made in the European tradition of melting bittersweet chocolate in milk and heavy cream, however, it is "skip-two-meals" lush and fattening.
Our ideal hot cocoa would have serious chocolate flavor and a rich, satisfying consistency yet would not require a 'day' of fasting after drinking a cup.
One and one-half tablespoons of cocoa powder sweetened with one tablespoon of sugar added enough chocolate flavor without being overpowering. Many recipes recommend mixing cocoa powder and sugar with a little water before adding the milk, and we found this to be worthwhile. Water has the effect of releasing the cocoa powder's fruit, chocolate, and coffee flavor nuances. We also discovered that heating the cocoa powder/sugar/water mixture for two minutes before adding milk further deepens the flavor. Our choice of dairy turned out to be low-fat milk; the reduced fat content in 1 and 2 percent milk allows for the greatest range of cocoa flavor. A small splash of half-and-half adds a pleasant richness.list of recipes