PIEHOLE: SNOW DAY MEANS HOT CHOCOLATE

hot cocoa (1)PieHole tracks down a few hot chocolate recipes from chefs, bartenders and home cooks to help you weather the storm. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

morsels medium

With plenty of bacon and booze on hand, PieHole headquarters is well-stocked to weather the coming snowstorm. Besides these survival staples, though, we also believe that nothing says “snow day” like hot chocolate.

Some folks are fine with emptying the powdery contents of an envelope into a mug and adding hot water. Others prefer a long, slow melting of exotic chocolate with a touch of hot pepper.

PieHole knows there’s no one right way to make hot chocolate. We surveyed some of our area’s finest chefs, bartenders and home cooks to come up with a few recipes for you to try when you’re holed up at home by a snowstorm. If you’ve got a recipe you’d like to share, please feel free to add it to the comments below.

Stuart Marx from DB Fromagerie’s Hot Chocolate

David Burke Fromagerie’s executive pastry chef Stuart Marx tells PieHole that when he makes hot chocolate at the Rumson restaurant, it’s a fairly complex process involving a homemade fudge sauce warmed and thinned with milk. This recipe, that Marx came up with on the spot, features ingredients that Marx says would be readily availble to the home cook.

He says it’s very important to taste at the end and add more sugar or chocolate as necessary. “Making it to taste is what hot chocolate is all about,” says Marx.

1 quart whole milk

1 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar (to taste)

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup of Hersey’s syrup or 1/2 cup of Nutella

Warm ingredients and adjust taste at the end.

Finish with whipped cream and marshmallows

Marx adds, “If you’re having adults over, something that will warm everyone and taste wonderful would be to add rum, bourbon or brandy.”

Casey Pesce of d’jeet? Real Hot Chocolate (4 servings)

Chef Casey Pesce of d’jeet? in The Grove in Shrewsbury has two young kids of his own, and turned PieHole onto this super-simple approach to hot chocolate.

4 cups whole milk

1 cup dark chocolate chips (sweetened)

Dash of cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a small pot on medium heat. Whisk in chocolate until melted. Serve with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.

Feel free to add more chocolate depending on taste. If it’s dark bitter chocolate, add some sugar to taste.

Jamian’s Grown-Up Hot Chocolate

The bartenders at Jamian’s on Monmouth Street in Red Bank came up with this grown-up version of hot chocolate for PieHole.

Make your hot chocolate however you desire. Powder, milk, water, etc.

Dip your mug rim in water, then coat with kosher salt.

In the salted-rimmed mug add:

1/2 oz Stoli Vanil

1/2 oz Frangelico

1/4 oz Kahlua

Top with your hot chocolate. You can substitute salted rim with whipped cream with sprinkle of kosher salt on top.

Melissa’s Lip Smackin-Good Hot Cocoa

PieHole’s neighbor (and chestnut maven) Melissa Bartolone has a home recipe that’s inspired by her visits to Jaques Torres Chocolate in Manhattan. We had a sample of this hot chocolate and it blew our mind. Small portions are the key to this rich and complex-tasting treat.

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup whole milk

1 1/4 discs Ibarra Mexican chocolate

Enough semisweet chocolate to make 7 oz. total of chocolate (the better the chocolate quality, the better the finished product, but in a pinch, chocolate chips will do the trick with good results)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cocoa powder

Finely chop the chocolates and add to medium-sized pan with heavy bottom. Add cayenne, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder. Add half-and-half and milk, and begin to warm over medium low heat, whisking occasionally.

Once mixture comes to slow simmer, whisk constantly to avoid scorching. DO NOT bring to boil.

When all the chocolate is melted and smooth, and the mixture is warmed, ladle into mugs and serve. If you really want to gild the lily, add a shot of whiskey and/or a dollop of softly whipped heavy cream.

Have a favorite hot chocolate recipe you’d like to share? PieHole would love to hear from you, just leave it in the comments below.