Brace yourselves, bunnies, and get your rotten tomatoes ready. Things are about to get whiny.
See, it has been cold in Los Angeles this past week. Seriously. The city is freaking out. And yes, I can hear you rolling your eyes from here, and yes, I am dodging those tomatoes you are so unkindly pitching my way as I type this.
I know that LA isn’t actually cold, comparatively, and most of the country is suffering through much lower temperatures right now. I mean, I have a cousin who lives in North Pole, Alaska, and her facebook statuses regularly give me frostbite just by reading them. (No one should ever be glad it’s “only” zero degrees.) Word on the street is that Nevada is freezing too, and they’re eating mad soup over there to counter it.
But. But! We spoiled Angelenos are unprepared for this nonsense. Our jackets and scarves are for looks only—they’re not meant to actually protect us from the weather. We’re soft. We’re climatically naïve. We’re not like the rest of you hardy folks, and we tremble at the thought of highs in the 50s. Don’t believe me? Jimmy Kimmel would not lie:
So with chilly temperatures and brisk winds outside, I have been hunkering down inside. Sweatshirts have been burrowed in. Slippers have been worn on errands in lieu of regular shoes. Space heaters have been spooned. I’m not proud, but desperate times, man.
I’ve also been drinking more hot chocolate and tea, but let’s be honest—it’s been about a 4:1 ratio of chocolate to tea around here. I was craving something a little different, so I came up with this recipe for Hazelnut White Hot Chocolate. It starts with freshly toasted hazelnuts that are steeped in milk before being strained out. The resulting hazelnut milk is so amazing, you will probably want to drink it on its own…but resist! Instead, combine it with cream and white chocolate, for a super rich and smooth treat with a great nutty flavor. It’s almost good enough to make me wish for permanently cold weather…almost.
So tell me: Is it cold where you are, too? How are you keeping warm? And can’t we all agree that 50*F is, like, legitimately chilly?
Hazelnut White Hot Chocolate
yield: 2 servings
I’ve only made this recipe with white chocolate, but I suspect it would also work well with milk or semi-sweet chocolate, if you wanted to go for a Nutella-inspired flavor. If you’re using a darker chocolate, make sure to taste it before serving, since it may benefit from a little added sugar.
1/2 cup skinned hazelnuts
1 vanilla bean (can substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups milk (any fat percentage)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 oz white chocolate (1/2 cup chopped)
Garnishes like whipped cream, chocolate, and toasted hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 15 minutes, stirring after every 5 minutes to prevent burning. Toast them until they are brown and fragrant.
Cool them to room temperature, then put them in a food processor or blender. Pulse the nuts until they are in small pieces. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod, and combine the chopped nuts, the scraped seeds, the pod, and the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat on the stove. Bring the milk to a simmer, then remove it from the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Let the mixture sit and infuse for at least an hour. If you want to let it sit longer, refrigerate the pan until you’re ready to continue. The milk mixture can even sit overnight if desired.
Once it has infused, line a wire strainer with cheesecloth and pour the milk through, straining out the chopped nuts and vanilla bean. Gather the cheesecloth into a bag and squeeze the contents to get out all the excess milk. Combine the strained milk, cream, chopped white chocolate, and salt in a saucepan, and place it over medium-low heat.
Heat, whisking frequently, until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Taste and add additional white chocolate or milk to taste. Garnish with whipped cream, melted chocolate, or additional chopped hazelnuts, as desired. Serve immediately. It might start to separate as it cools, with a layer of white chocolate on top, so if it has been standing, be sure to heat and whisk well before serving.
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