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Hot Chocolate

It is a gorgeous Valentine’s Day here in Memphis! It is bright and sunny and the temperature is in the neighborhood of 60F. It is the perfect atmosphere for sunny smiles and red high heels.  Out for lunch at Houston’s it was great to see folks of all ages dressed in their Valentine best as they treated each other to a festive meal on this beautiful day. I am delighted to be a part of it.

Still, despite the sunny contrast in climates there are things I can’t help but miss about the Pacific Northwest this time of year.  One of them is the exotic variety of artisan chocolates I had come to depend on for celebrating special occasions.  Just thinking of Moonstruck’s selection of quality chocolates makes my mouth water.  And then there is the hand-crafted charm of Alma Chocolates, a bit more rustic but no more plain spoken. Alma’s hand-gilded dark chocolate icons are uniquely exquisite and the habenero caramels are sublime.

Inspired by those exceptional chocolates of Valentine’s Days past I began a search for artisan chocolates crafted in Tennessee.  That’s when I discovered Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co. in Nashville.

Olive & Sinclair hand crafts Southern Artisan Chocolate. Their claim to southern style is based not only on their physical location but on their product selection as well. While they do not have a line of truffles or caramels, their chocolate bars and brittles offer a variety of southern inspired flavors exquisitely packaged. The bars are beautiful and the flavors, including the Salt & Pepper and Buttermilk White bars along with the Bourbon Nib Brittle,are intriguing.  When I read that their Valentine Cinn-Chili Heart was perfect for making a rich hot chocolate I was hooked.

Not only did the Hot Chocolate turn out to be rich and amazing but the recipe could scarcely be simpler.  Unfortunately it was not included on the Valentine heart packaging but was printed right on the back of the Mexican Style Cinn-Chili Bar and was easy to remember. Try it for yourself using a gorgeous Olive & Sinclair Valentine’s Day Heart or other chocolate of your choice.  No doubt it is best shared with a special friend.

Now I can hardly wait to break into the box of Bourbon Nib Brittle….

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mexican Hot Chocolate
Slightly adapted from the back of the Olive & Sinclair Mexican Style Chocolate bar

Makes 2 small servings

2.75 ounces chocolate, roughly chopped or broken
1½ cups milk
Sugar, to taste (I didn’t use any)
Whipped cream, if desired
Stick cinnamon or a pinch of spice, if desired  

In a small saucepan heat milk to a simmer.

Add chocolate, whisking until melted.

Add sugar to taste.

Remove from heat. Pour into small cups.

Top with whipped cream and serve with a cinnamon stick or top with a pinch of spice (cinnamon or ancho chili powder is nice), as desired.


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