In a past life, I lived all over the world. I was gone from months a time - missing birthdays, alone on holidays. Instead the cobblestone streets of Milan were my home. The dewy humid air of Singapore cradled me at night. The rice wrapped in pandan leaves from the streets of Phucket were afternoon snacks. Sometimes its hard to find comfort in a culture that is so other.
It's all good and well to romanticize travels abroad in foreign countries - wandering from street to street imagining your artifice of a life there. After a month, the romanticism starts to drift away and those long walks become lonely walks. I tried to find comfort in the similarities. While in Milan I would go to Via Brera sit and sip on Italian hot chocolate. It reminded me of New York in the winter. It tasted better than any hot chocolate I had state side - it was more than enough to transport me home. It was better than home, it was new and old coming together to create something that was all mine. So here is to thick and creamy Italian hot chocolate, to new and old, and to creating something that is all yours.
RECIPE: SPICY ITALIAN HOT CHOCOLATE
- 1 1/4 cup of half and half
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of espresso
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 3 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (60% to 80% cacao) - finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder
- Whisk together 3 tablespoons of half and half with the cornstarch. The cornstarch tends to clump together - whisk until smooth.
- In a saucepan, heat the remaining half and half to a simmer over medium heat. Add the sugar and espresso then whisk.
- Then add the cornstarch mixture and whisk until the half and half has slightly thickened - approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the finely chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add the cayenne pepper and mix in.
- Serve hot and top with whipped cream if desired.