Hot Chocolate French Style

Last weekend, leaving the marché bio loaded down with purchases, I noticed a vendor selling hot chocolate. A born chocoholic, I could never pass such a concession without trying a sample, so I bought a cup to share with my spouse. Within minutes we had downed the rich, thick, dark liquid, which put us in a state of bliss. As soon as I got back to the apartment, I tried duplicating the recipe with good results, so once again we indulged in this ambrosial beverage.

The following evening at our dinner table, a young Amherst alum in Paris for a few days with his girl friend mentioned that he had tried the hot chocolate at Angelina’s, a Right Bank tea room renowned for their cups of this sumptuous brew. I listened enthralled as this strapping hockey player rhapsodized about the French version of one of his family’s favorite hot drinks. When I told him that I knew how Chocolat Chaud à l’Ancienne was made, you would have thought I’d offered him a contract with the Toronto Redwings. “Please send it to me,” he politely begged.
 Here’s my version, a close facsimile of that delectable Parisian original!  
4 ounces dark chocolate, 70% cacao (See note.)
2 cups milk, either whole or 2 %
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process style
2 tablespoons sugar plus more if needed
Coarsely chop the chocolate and place it and the milk in a medium, heavy saucepan. Place the pot over low heat. Stir the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has melted, taking care to scrape any chocolate bits on the bottom of the pan into the liquid. Raise the heat to medium and then gradually, with a whisk, add the cocoa powder and the sugar. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened and reduced to about 2 cups, about 12 minutes. If necessary, lower the heat so that the mixture does not boil.
Taste a spoonful (it will be quite hot so let it cool for a few seconds), and, if desired, add more sugar by 1/2 teaspoon amounts.
Pour the warm chocolate into 2 standard-size coffee cups or mugs or into 4 espresso-size cups.  Serves 2 to 4.
Note: I used Nestlé’s 70 % chocolate. Scharffenberger’s 70% bittersweet bar and Ghiradelli’s  extra bittersweet 70% baking bar are available in many US groceries. Depending on the chocolate you use, you may want to add additional sugar to your hot chocolate as the recipe directions suggest.

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