Aztec Hot Chocolate

In case you don’t live in Athens, I’ll share our news:


And not just a little. It snowed a good eight inches.


Please excuse my senseless and excessive use of exclamation points. I’ve been abusing them for about 48 hours now. I just still can’t believe the relative blizzard, and — this is the best part, for me — yesterday was my birthday.

Ok, just one more time: !!!!!!!!!!!!

Never, in my thirty-seven (it only hurts a bit) years, has it snowed on my birthday. Here, in the deep south, or anywhere more northerly that I’ve lived. It’s been like a dream come true, seriously. Yesterday was probably the best birthday I’ve ever had — it was a perfect day. It was a pure reflection of things heavenly. And I didn’t even do anything crazy, like spend a day at a spa, or anything of the like. The day included some pretty normal activities, like bread-baking, laundry, changing diapers, and such. But there was more than half a foot of snow on the ground, blindingly reflecting the sunlight of a crystal-clear winter day. Tim was home (the University was closed), so I had extra helping hands, and was able to indulge in the rare weekday luxury of an afternoon solo run (with sopping wet feet, which still didn’t dampen my mood). We ended the day with Tim’s surprise for me: dinner and a movie at The National. Sigh. What more could a girl-approaching-middle-age ask for?

Enough of your perfect birthday already, you might be thinking. Alright — on to foodie things. As the title suggests, this post is about some kickin’ hot chocolate, south-of-the-border-style. I made a piping-hot pot, the eve of the above-described day-o-celebration, as we anxiously awaited the imminent loss of power with every boom and bright-blue flash of light that signified a transformer blowing at the rate of one every 10 minutes or so (most of Athens lost power, we were fortunate enough to be on a block that mysteriously and miraculously kept it). A neighbor had locked herself out of her house, and was keeping shelter until help arrived. What better excuse to make hot chocolate? We had some a few weeks ago, at our new favorite coffee shop, Two Story, just down the street (they sell local coffee — 1000 faces — and only offer it as a french press pot, or a pour-over method; and very reasonably priced). It had just a touch of cinnamon, with a spicy kick at the end, from cayenne. Seemed simple enough, and I’ve already mentioned liking my chocolate with heat. A dash of this and that added to the cocoa directions on the side of my Hershey’s can, and we were enjoying some really good hot chocolate; just in time to light the candles as the power went off around 9pm (only to be thankfully — we’re about out of firewood — restored about 10 minutes later). If you find yourself with a few more weeks to go until Spring, and need a little help getting through a cold night, give it a try:

Aztec Hot Chocolate (yes, I stole the name from David. But it’s not ice cream — I guess it should be “Hot” Hot Chocolate?)

makes 2 10-oz servings

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp Hershey’s cocoa powder (or another brand — I prefer the flavor of dutched over natural cocoa)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 or 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp hot water
  • 2 cups milk (whole, or a mixture of lowfat and half-n-half — c’mon people, it’s hot cocoa)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix sugar, cocoa, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in a small saucepan, and stir in the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil for about a minute, until everything dissolves. Slowly stir in the milk, and continue stirring until hot (don’t let the mixture boil). Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla. Serve in warm mugs.

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