Hot Chocolate for the Winter Solstice
I make this beverage for my family as a special treat, once a year on the winter solstice. We spend the evening outdoors, away from electric illumination, to honor the darkness; and cups of hot chocolate made with melted chocolate (not cocoa) have become part of the ritual.
3/4 c half-and-half
2 Tbsp raw sugar
1 c high-quality bittersweet (60%) chocolate chips
4 c milk
3/4 tsp real vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cayenne
pinch sea salt
Heat half-and-half and sugar until simmering. Remove from heat; add chocolate chips. Let sit a moment, then whisk to combine. Chocolate should be thoroughly melted. This chocolate base can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week to make individual cups of hot chocolate; when ready, proceed with recipe as follows.
Combine chocolate base and milk. Stir to combine, then heat thoroughly; do not boil. When piping hot, stir in vanilla, cayenne and sea salt. Decant into 4 preheated mugs.