We made it back to Morges yesterday afternoon relatively unscathed. While we were in Rome it felt chilly, but the weather here makes Rome seem positively balmy! The three main things we ate in Rome were gelato, pizza, and hot chocolate. Once in a while we did throw in some apples or oranges. But I'm afraid that unless there were vegetables on the pizza (broccoli on pizza--delicious!), none were consumed. Anyway, I do not really have the equipment needed to adequately replicate gelato and pizza, but I figured I could certainly manage a cup or two of thick and creamy Italian hot chocolate. And the cold, windy weather in Morges seemed the perfect excuse for some hot chocolate experimentation. A quick Google search produced several promising recipes; this is the one I used as a base.
Unsurprisingly I had a bar or two of chocolate on hand. I buy the above chocolate in packs of ten or so when they go on sale at the supermarket and use them for baking, though I think they are intended for eating. For some reason chocolate specifically for baking is difficult to come by in Switzerland.
The main difference in Italian hot chocolate vs. good quality regular hot chocolate seems to be the thickness. I saw several methods used for thickening the drink--flour, arrowroot starch, and cornstarch all came up. I imagine potato starch would work pretty well too, but I used cornstarch.
My recipe ended up like this (only two changes from the recipe on bell' alimento):
-100 grams of 70% or higher chocolate, finely chopped
-1.5ish cups whole milk (I think I added a bit more).
-2 tablespoons sugar
-3 teaspoons cornstarch
I mixed the chocolate, sugar and cornstarch together in a small saucepan placed over medium-low heat. Once the chocolate was melted I slowly added the milk.
Or at least, that is ideally what would have happened. First of all, I only had 2.5% milk in the fridge, so used that instead of whole milk. Secondly, I mixed 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, the sugar, and chocolate together. Then whisked in the milk. Then decided that the hot chocolate wasn't thick enough (did I not cook the hot chocolate long enough? It was hot! Or maybe it was the lack of whole milk?) and added another teaspoon of cornstarch. The hot chocolate ended up with quite a few "bits" (as Rowan said) in it, which I think was cornstarch that I couldn't get blended. I'm assuming if I follow the aforementioned ideal method next time, I can avoid the bits. At any rate, the bits were easily strained out, and the hot chocolate ended up being delicious! Better, in fact, than most of the stuff we had in Rome, as we didn't often have the luxury of being picky about the establishments we stopped at for refreshments.
More on Rome to come!
NOTE: I made the hot chocolate again with with whole milk, and 3 teaspoons of cornstarch was too much. So if you're using whole milk try with just 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.