Some experiences we never forget. When I was a clothing designer I spent several months living in Paris with musician friends of my husband’s, Peter and Annie. Both had lived off and on in Paris and Peter was there making an album. Annie and I had become fast friends the year before while we were working on a music video together in Aruba. From the moment I arrived in Paris, Annie took me under her wing. We went to the most wonderful places for both sightseeing and dining, places only a resident would know to go. Annie was a fabulous gourmet cook and we also had lots of fun visiting Parisian kitchenny-type shops and outdoor markets. I had lived in Boston’s North End and was accustomed to whole sheep hanging in the butcher’s windows, but this was my first experience seeing captive bunnies and ducks, which were meant for eating, on sale at a marketplace.
One of the most memorable afternoons was spent visiting the extraordinary Hommage á Christian Dior at the Musée des Arts de la Mode, followed by a visit to a sweetly elegant and charming pâtisserie. The dining room was bright light-flooded from the 15 foot high ceilings and arching floor-to-ceiling windows, with views of the bustling square beyond. The pastry cart was impossibly difficult to choose from, but Annie knew just what beverage to order. Served from a pot especially designed for hot chocolate, the drink was richly dark, with a dollop of whipped cream, and topped by a square of dark chocolate. The chocolate square sank to the bottom, not quite melting. When finished drinking, there was a swirl of semi-melted chocolate remaining to spoon from the bottom of the cup.
Fast forward to raising our children. Aren’t snow days simply the best! I think I looked forward to them as much as did my kids. As a working mom a snowy day meant magical extra time off with my children, and was a day made even more festive when accompanied by cups of warm cocoa. Most times we made hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and/or with a few drops of essence of peppermint, but if I had chocolate squares and heavy cream on hand to whip, we made it our favorite Parisian way.
Liv’s coming home for a few days in February. I’m already planning a Happy Hot Chocolate afternoon (and possibly breakfast too)!
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My best approximation of Parisian-style hot chocolate ~
2 cups whole milk, gently heated
Pinch of salt
Add vanilla bean to milk as it is heating (or add ½ tsp. vanilla)
Remove from heat. Stir in 3 Tbs. Ghirardelli unsweetened premium baking cocoa and 3 Tbs. sugar. Whisk until frothy.
Dollop with whipped cream and garnish with a square of dark chocolate.