Yesterday morning, on my way into the restaurant, I stopped at the studio where I’m taking a pottery class and found that a little slab mug I made for June was out of the kiln and ready. I had glazed it in what was supposed to be a matte turquoise but came out more like forest green, and the handle was crooked, because I had rushed it. But in my hand, the glaze felt as smooth as a washed silk button-down I remember my mom wearing in the eighties, so I decided to get over it. I surprised June with it when I got home in the afternoon, and she thanked me with this gasp-and-swoon thing she picked up somewhere, very Lucille Ball, and then insisted that we celebrate with hot cocoa. Okaaaaay.

I wrote about hot chocolate here a long time ago – over seven years ago, now that I look it up: before Delancey, Essex, or June, and back when we still lived in that duplex on 8th Avenue Northwest with the white enamel table in the kitchen window and the neighbor who liked to do yard work by flashlight – and I still make that version often. If you’re up for chopping chocolate, it’s the best hot chocolate you can make. But if you’re not up for chopping chocolate, maybe because it’s the end of the workday and someone is standing on a chair at the counter, chanting “Make hot chockit, I wanna make hot chockit” like she thinks the words themselves will manifest the stuff, then you should make hot cocoa instead, and this hot cocoa is the best hot cocoa you can make.

I cannot take any credit for it, because I learned the recipe from my friend and Spilled Milk co-host Matthew. It is Matthew’s Hot Cocoa.

It has only three ingredients – milk, cocoa, and sugar – and barely requires a measuring spoon. It’s my favorite kind of recipe, in that once you’ve made it, you’ll probably never need to look at the recipe again. It will be Your Hot Cocoa. If you are a person of class, you can serve it from an elegant teapot with teacups and everyone will think you are a wizard, and if you’re not, you can serve it from the measuring cup you mixed it in and pour it into a homemade mug and seriously, get on it, before somebody “loves” the mug too hard and breaks it.

Et voilà.

Happy Saturday.



Matthew's Hot Cocoa

Matthew says that this formula makes one serving, but I find that it’s also a nice amount for one adult and one young child. Be sure to use a high-fat, natural (not Dutch-processed) cocoa powder, like Penzey’s or Scharffen-Berger.

2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces whole milk, heated to just bubbling on the stove or in the microwave

Whisk together the cocoa powder and sugar in a mug, if serving one, or, if serving two, just do this in the measuring cup that you measured the milk in. Add a splash of the hot milk, and continue whisking until a thick paste forms. Continue adding milk and whisking until the cocoa is rich and well-blended. Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 good adult serving, or enough for 1 adult and 1 kid who don't mind sharing