09 February, 2008

Mayan Hot Chocolate

This recipe is inspired by Vianne from the book/film Chocolat by Joanne Harris

2 cups boiling water
1 chile pepper, cut in half, seeds removed (with gloves)
5 cups light cream or whole or nonfat milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 to 2 cinnamon sticks
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate or
3 tablets Mexican chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar or honey, or to taste
l tablespoon almonds or hazelnuts, ground extra fine
Whipped cream

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add chile pepper to boiling water. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Remove chile pepper; strain water and set aside. (You can omit this step by using 2 large pinches to 1/4 teaspoon pasilla or ancho dried chile pepper powder or a combination of the two. Do not use chili powder — a mix of spices with cumin and oregano. Use pure ground red chile pepper like the rich pasilla, chile negro or ancho).

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream or milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick until bubbles appear around the edge. Reduce heat to low; add chocolate and sugar or honey; whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted and sugar dissolves. Turn off heat; remove vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. Add chile-infused water, a little at a time, tasting to make sure the flavor isn't too strong. If chocolate is too thick, thin with a little more milk.

Serve in small cups and offer ground almonds or hazelnuts and whipped cream.