Spicy hot cocoa

I’ve been satisfying my chocolate cravings with a homemade hot chocolate that is so easy and so rich that I don’t really know why you’d drink the store-bought stuff. This spicy hot cocoa with notes of cayenne pepper and cinnamon pays homage to a failed DC establishment, ACKC. Two winters ago, I often went with my cousin to the chocolate shop that used to be in the District’s bustling Logan Circle neighborhood. We’d both get the Lucy, the chocolate drink with a pleasant pepper note that hit your throat with heat. It was such a nice, spicy treat that warmed us up on cool nights.

ACKC has closed, my cousin has moved to another city, but at least I’ve salvaged the drink! Now that the weather is turning and it’s officially fall, this homemade version of the Lucy is really a great dessert or late-night drink to soothe and comfort you. The secret is excellent chocolate. I use Ghirardelli’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa, and it’s worth the investment. If the pepper is not your thing, just skip it. I always skip the cayenne in B’s drink, since he’s not a fan. This makes a very rich hot chocolate, which is how I like it, but you can always adjust it to your taste by adding more milk.

Recipe after the jump.

Also, if you’re wondering about the foam, read up here on my Ikea-bought handheld home foamer, which is still going strong!

Here’s how you make it:

1. Heat 6 oz. of whole milk in a sauce pan, stirring frequently to avoid burning the milk. If you want to foam the milk, do so once it’s heated up.

2. In the cup you plan to use for serving, stir together 1 tbsp. premium natural unsweetened cocoa, 3/4 tbsp. brown sugar, 1/8 tsp. cinnamon, and a pinch each of cayenne pepper and salt. (You can also make a larger batch of this and keep it handy as your own cocoa mix.)

3. Pour a few ounces of heated milk on the cocoa mix and stir into a sauce. Once the mix is fully incorporated, pour on the rest of the milk and stir.

A couple drops of vanilla extract offer a nice accent, but I don’t always do that. Before service, you could top with whipped cream and sprinkle on a little cinnamon. Cheers!

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