That’s what arrived, addressed to me in a big box along with the manuscript for a chocolate cookbook from one of my very favorite authors, Sara Perry. Not only is she a wonderful cookbook author and all-around nice person, she has the uncanny ability to find interesting gadgets, gourmet foods, kitchen utensils, and other tchochkes that are a delight to behold (and sometimes it takes us several days to figure out what it is and what it’s for).
A molinillo is a wooden whisk-esque stirrer for hot chocolate. It’s delightfully low-tech—basically, it’s a beautifully carved piece of wood with loose rings of wood around the end. When held upright and held between the palms of your hand, the molinillo is twirled back and forth in a pot of hot chocolate and creates a frothy drink that’s a giant step above the Swiss Miss of my youth.
You can learn more about molinillos at www.gourmetsleuth.com/molinillo.htm. Then try the great recipe from Sara Perry below. And if it’s too hot out there for drinking hot chocolate, try the molinillo on cold chocolate milk. Refreshing!
Here’s a recipe that lets you make one cup—or a team’s worth—in a hurry. After you prepare the rich chocolaty base, you can refrigerate it for up to 10 days. When the mood strikes, making a cup is as simple as scooping out 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons and stirring them into a mug of steaming milk.
6 ounces whole milk
2 to 3 heaping tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix (recipe follows)
Miniature marshmallows or Crunchy-Topped, Chocolate-Coated Marshmallows with Cacao Nibs for topping (optional)
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it is steaming, then pour it into a prewarmed mug. You can also warm the milk in a mug in a microwave oven. Stir in the hot chocolate mix. You may like the taste of it partially swirled or totally blended. Garnish with miniature marshmallows, if desired.
Hot Chocolate Mix
4 ounces premium unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream
In a heavy saucepan or in the top of a double boiler, combine the chocolate and water over low heat, whisking occasionally until smooth. (As the chocolate melts, it will appear stringy.) Add the salt and sugar and continue to cook and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, whisk the cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Fold in the cooled chocolate until blended. (Don’t worry if tiny flecks of chocolate appear. They won’t affect the delicious outcome.) Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. The mixture will keep for up to 10 days. Makes 15 to 20 servings.
Variations: For Dark Chocolate Mocha, follow the main recipe for the Hot Chocolate Mix. In a pre-warmed 8-ounce mug, top 4 ounces of coffee or a double espresso with 1 1/2-ounces brandy and 2-heaping tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix. Stir until partially or totally blended. Either way, the brew is delicious.