There are hot chocolates - and then there's Cioccolata Calda. Whether you drink it straight from the mug or use a spoon, you really can't go wrong.
- 2 cups half & half*
- 2 tablespoons corn starch (used as a thickening agent, also allows chocolate to be heated to warmer temperature)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 6 ounces dark chocolate, at least 70 percent bittersweet, shaved into shards
- Pinch of salt
- *If half & half is not available, substitute 1 cup milk and 1 cup heavy cream.
- Shave chocolate into shards
- Add sugar and cornstarch into a medium bowl and whisk together.
- Add 1/2-1 cup of the half & half and whisk together vigorously.
- Mix the cornstarch first with sugar, then into the cold half & half. This prevents it from clumping when added to a hot liquid.
- Pour remaining half & half into sauce pan, add vanilla seeds, and place over medium heat.
- Whisk cornstarch mixture together again briefly, then add to sauce pan.
- Cook mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes just up to a boil and thickens, 2-3 minutes.
- Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove immediately from heat.
- Add chocolate, and a pinch of salt. The salt brings out the chocolate flavor and balances the sweetness.
- Stir mixture gently with a wooden spoon to melt the chocolate and incorporate the flavors.
- Pour hot water into serving cups, remove, and dry with a clean towel, then pour about 1/2 cup of hot chocolate into each cup.