There are just some things that are perfect for cool fall nights. Hot chocolate is one of them.
I don't generally keep cow's milk in my fridge unless I need it for baking (long story), but when my wonderful friend and college roommate, Mel, came to stay with me for a couple of days last week, I bought a carton of milk with the clear intent of using it for one thing and one thing only: Homemade hot chocolate.
The way I make hot chocolate isn't groundbreaking, and I'm sure I could fancy up the recipe by chopping up a good-quality chocolate bar and adding some spices (cinnamon or maybe even chipotle would be amazing) instead of using cocoa powder, but it is delicious and rich and comforting and creamy and everything you want in a cup of cocoa. All I do is heat a cup of whole milk on the stovetop and then pour it over a mixture of 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder and 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar. Stir everything together (make sure to mix well, as it'll get clumpy if you don't), add about a quarter teaspoon of vanilla (maybe a little more; just eyeball it) and then top the whole thing with generous clouds of homemade whipped cream. (The more whipped cream you add, the creamier the cocoa will be because the whipped cream will melt right into it.)
And seriously, that's it. Serve it in a pretty teacup with a little garnish—we had salty-sweet chocolate-covered pretzels from Sirard's here in Sarasota that I got at an event—and enjoy. Yum.
Photo: A la mode*