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Stick it to ya

Hot chocolate on a stick makes for a sweet last-minute holiday treat.

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It’s just a few days before Christmas and you’re (sugar)plum out of ideas on what to give to those last few people you haven’t gifted yet.

I’ve got the perfect solution: hot chocolate on a stick! All you need is a little chocolate and a spare 30 minutes to make a sweet and tasty treat everyone will get a kick out of.

Hot chocolate on a stick is simply melted chocolate that has been poured into a mold with a toothpick or popsicle stick stuck in the middle, and has been allowed to harden. (Alternately, you can also dip spoons into the chocolate, as pictured.) To use them, simply heat up a cup of milk and stir the hot chocolate stick in the hot milk until it has completely melted. Voilà! Hot chocolate.

For this recipe, you’ll need to buy some decent chocolate; Hershey’s just won’t cut it. Go for a brand that uses cocoa butter instead of vegetable oil in the mix. I recommend Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, Callebaut, Ghirardelli, Green & Black’s Organic, and Vosges. Any percentage of chocolate will work, from white to 90 percent dark, just make sure the chocolate you’re using contains sugar. If it doesn’t, stir in some powdered sugar when the chocolate has melted to sweeten it up.

You’ll be creating a makeshift double-boiler to melt the chocolate: a bowl that transfers heat well and fits on top of a small pot with a little water in it; the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t touch the water line. Set the double boiler on a burner, put it on low or medium-low heat, and place the chocolate in the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, stir chocolate until melted.

Be careful to not let the bowl in the double boiler get too hot or the chocolate will “break,” separating the cocoa solids and fats, creating a gloppy mess. Go low and slow with your stovetop heat setting to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

For flavored hot chocolate sticks, stir a teaspoon of flavored extract or liqueur into the chocolate after it’s off the stove and has cooled down a little. You can also spice it up with a pinch of cinnamon, cayenne or chipotle powder. For a pretty finish, top them with festive sprinkles, small candies, or cocoa powder before the chocolate has hardened.

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Makes 8-10 servings

Equipment

8-10 mini muffin cups, small paper or plastic cups or ice cube trays

Toothpicks or spoons (plastic, wooden or metal)

Saucepan with about an inch of water in it

Bowl that transfers heat well (preferably stainless steel or glass) and fits on top of the saucepan without touching the water

Ingredients

8 ounces of the chocolate of your choice (white, milk or dark)

A pinch of cinnamon, cayenne, chipotle, five spice, etc.

Sprinkles for decoration (optional)

Directions

Set stovetop burner to lightly simmer the water in the saucepan and place your bowl on top of the pan. Add the chocolate to the bowl, making sure it doesn’t get scorching hot, and stir continuously until the chocolate is completely melted. Add spices at this time (if using). Remove bowl from the saucepan.

After letting the chocolate cool off for a minute or two, divide the chocolate mixture into the bottom of each muffin liner or cup. Chill for 5-10 minutes in the refrigerator, and then insert a toothpick or spoon into the liners. If you’re solely using spoons, dip the spoons into the chocolate, getting a fair amount on the front of it (add decorations at this time as well), and place them right side up on parchment paper or aluminum foil to then set in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.

Wrap in tissue paper or colored cellophane and store at room temperature.

To serve, heat up 6-8 ounces of milk and/or heavy cream until it is heated through but not boiling. Stir a hot chocolate stick into the hot milk until it has completely melted.

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