They say not to talk about the weather, because the weather is not interesting. Some days I agree. “It’s so hot” is not a compelling story But others I think that rule was invented by people who lived without four distinct seasons. How could someone not find shoots nudging their way through snow covered earth just as the calendar proclaims spring lovely? What beautiful imagery am I forsaking if I swear to never talk about the crunch of newly fallen snow, how it is cold enough that I bundle up in my parka, but that even as my breath freezes in front of me I take off my gloves to feel the tight, freezing dampness of a snowball? And are the leaves that burst into brilliance in the last moments of their lives as we bundle in sweaters and boots really to be ignored?
All of this is to say that Fall, after a few false starts, is finally here. I can wear long sleeves without worrying about being overheated. Our air conditioning unit is finally leaving the window. It’s cold in the evenings, cool on the edges, and warmish during the day. It’s the perfect weather for bonfires with blankets, stargazing while lying on car hoods, dinner parties, braises, and the last of the tomatoes. Around here it feels like the most wonderful time of the year.
I drink hot tea in the mornings more or less throughout the year, and once the weather starts to cool off I like to add some more hot beverages in my bag of tricks. I’m not sure how you feel about caffeine, but I’m fairly sensitive. Once in the morning is good enough for me, maybe a pick me up in the early afternoon if it’s been a rough day. Any more than that and I get jittery. Unfortunately most warm caffeine-free beverages are full of sugar. And since I’m around sugar all day for my job, I try to limit how much I have at home. Thankfully, I stumbled across this hot chocolate that fit all my requirements (which is not easy) in Anna Jones’ beautiful cookbook A Modern Way to Eat. I’m pretty smitten with this hot chocolate. We’re making regular dates.
It’s a bit of an unconventional drink, but it’s so much better for that. The milk is warmed and steeped with chamomile tea, which lends it a soft, floral quality. It’s whisked in with cocoa powder, cinnamon, a bit of honey, and just enough salt to make it reminiscent of salted caramel. It truly tastes of chocolate, which is surprisingly hard to find in hot chocolate. It takes five minutes to make, with maybe a minute of active time. And it’s a pleasure to drink- perfect for a fall afternoon.
Every Day Hot Chocolate
Adapted from A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones
Anna’s original recipe provides an optional addition of 1/2 a teaspoon of maca, which I have never used. If you do try it, please let me know. She calls for your milk of choice, and it’s very good with both almond and cow’s milk. I halved this recipe to make it for one, and made a rough conversion from metric to imperial measurements. If you do use metric, Anna calls for 250 ml of milk per serving.
1 cup whole milk, or milk of choice
1 chamomile tea bag
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
pinch cinnamon (my pinch is about 1/8 a teaspoon)
1 tablespoon honey
In a small sauce pan warm the milk over medium heat until it just comes to a simmer. Add the chamomile, and let steep for a few minutes. Discard the tea bag, and whisk in the cocoa powder, spices, and honey. Serve warm, preferably with a blanket and book.