Earlier this year, I read and really enjoyed Erica Bauermeister’s “The School of Essential Ingredients.” The one thing I would have liked to add to the book was the actual recipes for some of the delicious-sounding food that was made in the book. Erica listened to her readers on this, and started doing a series of guest posts featuring recipes from the book. When she contacted me and asked if I would like to host a guest post/recipe and a giveaway, I jumped at the chance. I’m hoping to try out this hot chocolate on a cold, dreary day this winter. See the end of this post for a giveaway.
We’re moving deeply into winter, Thanksgiving handing the holiday baton over to the festivities of December. Kitchens are filled with the smells of rosemary and turkey, pumpkin and cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. And hot chocolate, the way that luxurious smell comes floating up to your nose, the first sensation of whipped cream meeting your lips as you sip your way to the molten chocolate underneath.
It’s magic, really, which makes it only natural that Lillian used hot chocolate to tempt her mother back into the real world in The School of Essential Ingredients. But I realized pretty quickly when I was writing Lillian’s story that it couldn’t be just any hot chocolate. It had to be a version that would remind you of the hot chocolate you drank after playing all day in the snow, yet would also be full of the sensuality that only comes with adulthood. A recipe that would remind Lillian’s mother of the world she had given up.
As I was writing Lillian’s story I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, playing with ingredients. I loved the idea of adding orange and cinnamon, the combination of summer and autumn they create. Coffee and chocolate played off each other in an equally satisfactory way. But something was missing, and I couldn’t think of what it would be.
I went to the Mexican grocery store in the Pike Place market in Seattle and I asked the woman there for something special. She humored me, suggesting cinnamon, and sent me on my way. But as I was going up to the counter with a red and yellow box of Mexican chocolate in my hands, she came around the end of the aisle, a small bag in her hands.
“Perhaps a bit of anise,” she said.
It’s in there, with the proviso that a little bit of anise goes a very long way….
Hot chocolate and coffee
1 cup milk
5 curls orange rind
1/2 stick cinnamon
4 T Mexican chocolate
1 cup coffee
Put milk, orange rind, cinnamon and chocolate in a saucepan and warm through. Add a touch of anise. Add to coffee and top with whipping cream.
If you want to see more recipes or learn more about The School of Essential Ingredients, you can go to www.ericabauermeister.com