Olé! Hot Chocolate With Some Heat
Berkshire native Alana Chernila, local politician, mother of two, and author of the new cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), dispenses change and cooking ideas at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market. She shares her peak-of-the-season recipes with Rural Intelligence to help us make the most of what’s growing in our region. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has just announced that she has a new one in the works: Meals from the Homemade Pantry (Clarkson Potter), due out in 2014.
Today was so much better than yesterday. I love that. I woke up without the sensation to roar at everyone. And I got invited to my friend Brandee’s to try to make pumpkin Mexican hot chocolate.
Brandee’s just full of good ideas, so there’s no way I would have said “no” to this invitation. The girls and I ran down the hill to her house in anticipation today singing a hot chocolate song. We might as well have been triplets on our birthday, we were so happy.
Brandee had roasted the daintiest little pumpkin, and the girls tortured the new kitten while we worked on the hot chocolate. Apparently, her mother suggested this odd combination to her, and originally the recipe had called for butternut squash.
But it was the pumpkin on her counter that called out to be roasted, so pumpkin it was. The pumpkin got blended together with milk and cinnamon, heated with more milk, and then made to play host to the melting chocolate.
Are you feeling doubtful? Wondering how winter squash would collide with the breakfast of princesses? Well, cease your negativity, and throw that pumpkin in the oven. I’ve had a lot of hot chocolate in my almost 31 years, and this was an INCREDIBLE cup of chocolate. It was thick and rich, but with a complex spice to it. It was exactly chocolate enough, and exactly sweet enough. It was immensely satisfying, not to mention a pretty good way to get a whole lot of winter squash into your kid’s bloodstream.
I hope you all had good days today, but to any of you whose day might have been wanting, I hope that tomorrow is a little better. Maybe there might even be some winter squash and chocolate in your future. Come to think of it, perhaps you should just go ahead in take that into your own hands.
Pumpkin Mexican Hot Chocolate
Adapted from Brandee’s mother
1 1/3 cups roasted pumpkin (You can roast the pumpkin whole in a 400 degree oven for an hour or so, or until it’s very tender and the skin peels right off. I’m sure that you can use canned pumpkin, too.)
5 cups whole or low fat milk
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
12 ounces semisweet chocolate (chips or bar form will both work)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or chili powder (optional)
In a blender or food processor, puree the pumpkin with one cup milk, the cinnamon, and the cayenne, if using.
Heat the remaining four cups of milk in a medium saucepan. As it is heating, stir in the pumpkin puree. Add the chocolate and stir until it is partially melted. Then switch to a whisk and whisk the mixture until it is hot and all ingredients are fully incorporated. Serve hot. —Alana Chernila