You all know the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It’s true in so many ways, but in following this advice, you also miss the opportunity to make something even better.
Hot chocolate, for example. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s warm, comforting, cozy, chocolaty and delicious. How could you improve on that, anyway?
My talented friend, Kell, who runs Blackcurrant Photography, recently presented me with a challenge to improve the every day hot chocolate by throwing in a bit of red velvet inspiration. She listed her ideas on what she was visualising, and after days of thinking, planning, researching and being tortured by my children, I eventually showed her my result:
It was really delicious. A simple mixture of whole milk, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, vanilla and a hint of red food coloring for that red velvet look. Topped off with white chocolate whipped cream and grated red chocolate (red candy melts, actually). Really decadent.
Kell liked it, but yet… well, we were never on the same page to begin with, actually (I started feeling nervous about things when she told me she didn’t like thick hot chocolate, but I prefer thick hot chocolate!). The picture I showed her wasn’t quite what she had in mind; she was thinking of piping whipped cream on top, and maybe with some red velvet cake crumbs. Too bad she couldn’t actually taste it from the other side of the continent, or it might have won her over! Haha!
My final result wasn’t too thick; it was chocolaty, vanillary, and I suppose maybe what red velvet hot chocolate might taste like. Although, in all honesty, I found that most red velvet hot chocolate recipes already in existence are just basically your average hot chocolate with a bit of red food coloring mixed in (except for the ones that actually use red velvet cake mix!). So while I, myself, was happy with it, I felt I really needed to have one more go.
The next day, I did everything again. But I piped on the whipped cream this time (with a closed star tip) and bought a pack of red velvet cupcakes from the shops so I could crumble them up into little crumbs for decorating. I know I could have made the cakes myself, but I was trying to save time and focus on the look of the hot chocolates, rather than bake an entire cake just for a handful of crumbs!
I switched from a light background to a dark background with my vinyl chalkboard backdrop (I posted Instagram stories of this setup yesterday!), used some new second hand-finds (IKEA glasses and Noritake teaspoons) and a black slate serving board.
I made the same recipe as I had the day before (okay, admittedly, I tried cream cheese whipped cream this time, but, not being a fan of cream cheese anyway, I didn’t like it!), filled up the cups with my red velvet-inspired hot chocolate, piped on the whipped cream and threw on some crumbs. I showed Kell a photo of the newly styled hot chocolate.
“Wow!!! Now THAT is what was in my head. 😍”
See? Hot chocolate wasn’t broke, but I still fixed it and was able to make it better! Kell was really happy this time and shared the photo on her Instagram feed, hoping to inspire a few cafes. Fingers crossed!
- For the hot chocolate:
- 1 cup whole milk (or milk of choice)
- 45g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
- 15g good quality milk chocolate, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon red food coloring, optional
- red velvet cake crumbs, optional
- For the whipped cream:
- ½ cup thickened cream, chilled
- 30g good quality white chocolate, melted and cooled
- For the whipped cream: With a handheld mixer (or mixer of choice), whisk cream until soft peaks begin to form. Pour the melted and cooled white chocolate into the whipped cream and whisk gently until firm (do not over-whisk or the mixture will turn grainy). Set aside.
- For the hot chocolate: In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until hot and steaming, but not boiling. Reduce heat to low and whisk in dark and milk chocolates until melted. Stirring constantly with the whisk, cook for another couple of minutes so it's nice and warm. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and red food coloring, if using.
- Pour hot chocolate into 1 or 2 serving glasses (that's 1x 1-cup serving, or 2x ½ cup servings). Use a spoon to plop in a good dollop of white chocolate whipped cream, or pipe it on, if you prefer. Sprinkle over the red velvet cake crumbs, if using.
- Enjoy immediately!