Although my father lived in the U.S. for 20 years and cooked for Western restaurants, he had never tasted hot chocolate. Upon discovering this, I thought, Whoa...he's been missing out. But then I remembered that what passes for hot chocolate in the U.S, even at high-end coffee shops, tends to be cheap cocoa powder mixed with milk, or worse, water.
The best hot chocolates I've had, like at NYC's City Bakery or anywhere in Spain, are thick, almost soupy drinks made with high-quality dark chocolate. I used to work at a chocolate shop that served delicious drinks made with MarieBelle chocolate powder, but good powders are rare. Hard to find in the US, they're almost nonexistent in China.
Good quality dark chocolate bars, however, are in every 7-Eleven or Watson's. After the dinner that Jacob and I made my parents tonight (black pepper shrimp sautéed in olive oil and butter, with stir-fried green beans), I whipped up some coconut hot chocolate.
It's a very simple recipe that requires only 10 to 15 minutes from start to finish. I used 5 ounces of chocolate to 3 cups of liquid. The hot chocolate came out pretty thick, which I like but Jacob not so much. So adjust the amount of chocolate according to your preferences. The drink, however, is very fragrant and also excellent for dipping biscuits.
And I saved my dad from having Swiss Miss be his first hot chocolate experience.
Other winter drinks to try:
Coconut Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) coconut milk
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) milk
5 ounces (about 140 g) good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or broken in pieces
Mix coconut milk and milk in a small pot over low heat. Cook until simmering, about 3 to 5 minutes.
With the heat still on low, add in chocolate and stir until all melted and fully mixed into the milk. Remove from heat, ladle into cups, and serve immediately. Biscuits for dunking optional.