Lazy, Lighter Chocolat Chaud—Hot Chocolate with French Airs

Lazy, Lighter Chocolat Chaud—Hot Chocolate with French Airs

Lazy, Lighter Chocolat Chaud—Hot Chocolate with French Airs

Chocolate chaud hot chocolate cup TheTasteWorkshop.comIt snowed in the desert on National Margarita day. Neither event makes sense—a beach-boozy drink celebrated in winter and snow-covered cactus. Instead of tequila, my beverage is based on chocolate liquor—the meat of the cocoa bean.

Any cold day seems a good day for a hot chocolate break or breakfast treat to warm your body and soul. To help with that, I’m sharing this chocolat chaud recipe that I’ve tested until woozy with cocoa to get it just right, even if not exactly French.

Is this even French?

Enjoy rich foods fearlessly and without excuses! If only we could do this more often. Such a French food attitude wouldn’t need a “lighter” hot chocolate—Non Merci! You would instead sip traditional chocolat chaud, intentionally, slowly and happily—just enough to satisfy without feeling heavy.

I didn’t see “light” versions of chocolat chaud when I lived in France. Certainly not made in a microwave—not a classic French culinary move. So why create a lazy, lighter version? Because sometimes simplicity reigns and this three-ingredient version delivers on flavor and comfort.

In the U.S., hot chocolate may contain milk, water or both with cocoa powder or syrups instead of chocolate. French recipes include milk most often, sometimes cream, but milk paired with a high-quality dark chocolate is rich enough.

Is this even Chocolate?

As a kid, I reveled in making my own hot chocolate. Add a packet of cakey cocoa with chalky, sweet white bits to a cup, stir in hot water and voilà—chocolate for breakfast.

I loved this astronaut-ready freeze-dried instant hot beverage. Especially after meeting an astronaut who I was certain sucked up hot chocolate and marshmallow bits in zero-gravity.

Chocolate chaud Hot Chocolate TheTasteWorkshop.comIn college, I graduated from “milk chocolate-flavor cocoa mix” to Nestle’s chocolate syrup with hot milk. The cocoa mix has 16 ingredients and the syrup has 12, three of which are food colors.

If you grew up enjoying these options, then ignore the ingredient list–just enjoy it as a periodic treat. For me, everything changed when my friend Michel treated me to Chocolat Chaud in Paris at his quiet neighborhood bistro.

Liquid Chocolate

The best part of chocolat chaud that I’ve loved, is at the bottom of the cup. A morsel of soft, not fully melted, chocolate lingers. This “Pièce de Résistance” (proof of real chocolate), leaves you a couple spoonfuls of thick chocolate or sips of thick cocoa tonic to boost your mood.

Unlike the drinkable chocolate bar offered at the famous Angelina’s in Paris, most versions of hot chocolate I enjoy in Paris are neither thick nor super rich. Sometimes, whipped cream decorates the top, but for me, that’s just a pretty distraction diluting the cocoa flavor.  But I get grumpy when cold, so just ignore my whinging and bling up with dairy delights as you wish.

Chocolat Chaud Recipe

Hot milk mixed with dark chocolate pieces plus a hint of sugar to balance the bitter dark chocolate.

Ingredients

3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (about ½ cup—see notes for chocolate and chips)

1 ½ cup skim milk (see milk option notes below)

2 teaspoons powdered sugar (thickens drink & balances bitter notes in chocolate)

Dark chocolate options—3 ounces of:

  • 70% bittersweet chocolate bar (about ½ cup chopped). I like Valhrona (6 ½ squares is about 3 ounces), but pick any high-quality chocolate you like.
  • Dark chocolate chips (about ½ cup) tend to be only 60% dark chocolate, are sweeter, have a lighter chocolate flavor and different nutrient profile.

Steps:

  1. For your your pièce de résistance, pull aside about ⅓ (about 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons) of the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, and divide between two small tea or coffee cups.
  2. In a glass measuring cup (at least 2 cups), add 1 ½ cups milk. Microwave on high for 3 minutes.
  3. To the milk, add the remaining chocolate (about 2 ounces left) and powdered sugar. Whisk or stir with a metal spoon scraping any chocolate that sticks to the sides or bottom. Taste. If the taste is a bit bitter, add more powdered sugar–each teaspoon is only 10 calories. Microwave for 1 more minute, whisk or stir vigorously until frothy. 
  4. Pour in equal amounts into the cups each with the chocolate pieces waiting to be partially melted. No need to stir, unless you want a thicker drink. Find a cozy, quiet place to enjoy or share with kids or other adults and let time stop a moment to create a chocolatey memory.

Chocolate chaud Hot Chocolate TheTasteWorkshop.com

Milk Notes

  • Skim milk texture is thinner than whole milk, but the powdered sugar versus a crystalized sugar acts as a thickener.
  • If you use whole milk, it can bubble over, and possibly erupt in the microwave, so reduce the heat or the time to control this.

Serving & Make-Ahead notes:

  • Serve warm in the smallest coffee or tea cups you have (demitasse cups if you’re into French dishes).
  • If making ahead of serving, put in the refrigerator for a few hours or even overnight. Rewarm and stir before serving. The chocolate pièce de résistance will likely melt though, so you can leave that out, warm the cocoa, then add the extra chocolate to the cup.
  • If you don’t’ have a microwave, go old school and heat milk in a pot, add chocolate and reduce until thicker.

Calorie Notes–Urg. I hesitate to share since this beverage isn’t about watching calories, but it is a rich treat, so here’s some specs:

  • Skim milk calories versus whole milk for this recipe is about 50 more calories per cup.
  • Because this is a rich beverage, use small cups and enjoy slowly. Each serving is about 300 calories—just a bit more a Starbucks 16-ounce version at 400 calories, but it’s a different taste and flavor option.

    About Me

    The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
    Michele Redmond

    Michele Redmond

    French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

    It's about Making Food First

    Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

    Easy French Brown-Butter Tart

    Easy French Brown-Butter Tart

    Easy French Brown-Butter Tart

    Easy French Brown-Butter Tart

    For bakers and home cooks who bake often, making tarts is easy enough. However, not everyone, including me, appreciates the specific measuring and techniques required for good tart dough. Now, after discovering this easy brown-butter tart, I’m dreaming of future tarts.

    The dough is similar to a pâte sablée (“sandy” dough). It’s tender and crumbly like shortbread, holds its shape well and has a delicate brown-butter flavor. So, while it won’t replace all varieties of tart options, it can substitute for many sweet and savory versions.

    I discovered this recipe while reading a post by David Lebovitz who wrote that upon hearing about this:

    ”I almost started choking. “Surely, you jest!” I wanted to cry out in disbelief”…”It was all just crazy-talk.”

    The source, Paule Caillet of Promenades Gourmandes, is a culinary instructor I know through her Paris market tour cooking classes. The recipe works well, but after multiple tests, I made a couple minor ingredient revisions and heated the butter mixture on a cooktop rather than in the oven.

    Brown-Butter tart

    Brown-Butter Tart Recipe

    Serves 8

    Adapted from a recipe by Paule Caillat of Promenades Gourmandes

    Ingredients:
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 ounces or 85g) cut into chunks
    • 1 tablespoon flavorless cooking oil such as grapeseed or organic canola
    • 1 tablespoon sugar (5 ounces or about 142g)
    • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt (about 3 pinches)
    • 1 cup of all-purpose flour (5.5 ounces or 156g)
    Steps:
    1. Butter a 9” (23cm) tart pan (removable bottom is best) and turn oven to 400˚F (204˚C).
    2. Add butter, oil, sugar and salt to a 6-8” pot or rounded sauce pan and turn heat to medium heat.
    3. Foam and bubbles will begin to form as the water evaporates from the butter. When butter is melted (about 3 minutes) briefly stir to mix ingredients and let cook for 4-6 minutes more or until you see a tan color form in the center or around the edges. At this point remove from the heat as this tan color can quickly overcook to a dark brown (a Beurre noir) sauce.
    4. Remove the pot from the burner, add the flour and stir with a soup spoon (works best) or spoonula until the dough begins to pull away from the sides and stick together. Place the dough into the center of the tart pan and spread it across the base with the back of the spoon.
    5. When the dough is still warm but cool enough to touch, press it with your fingers spreading it evenly across the base (it will be thin) and up the sides.
    6. With a fork, prick around the dough base about twenty times, then bake on the center rack for 8-10 minutes or until the tart dough is golden brown. Once the tart is cool, fill to your delight.
    • If you use a dark pot it will be hard to see when the butter is the proper color.
    • Whole wheat substitutions will not yield the same flavor or texture.
    • European butters or Kerry Gold Irish butter for example, have lower water content than most commercial American butters. This may increase the evaporation time a bit during browning and may cause the mixture to “spit” or “pop” hot liquid a bit. Swirl the pan once or twice if this happens to reduce “spitting”.
    • The tart base can be prepared a day in advance
    • Use as a savory tart base as well but leaving out the sugar. Sugar does affect dough structure, so it will not be the exact same tart base, but it will work.

    The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, All of a summer day: The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts And took them quite away!

    1865  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

      About Me

      The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
      Michele Redmond

      Michele Redmond

      French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

      It's about Making Food First

      Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

      Swiss Chard Hazelnut Dessert Tart |Tarte Sucrée Aux Blettes et Noisettes

      Swiss Chard Hazelnut Dessert Tart |Tarte Sucrée Aux Blettes et Noisettes

      Swiss Chard Hazelnut Dessert Tart |Tarte Sucrée Aux Blettes et Noisettes

      Swiss Chard hazelnut dessert tart

      Swiss Chard Hazelnut Dessert Tart

       

      Really. It’s not so bizarre to use vegetables in dessert. Consider zucchini bread and carrot cake. Other popular recipes include red velvet beet cake, sweet potato pudding and avocado chocolate mousse. Dessert tarts made with Swiss chard have long been popular in the South of France. In Nice, where I first discovered this dessert tart, it’s part of the culture, and it’s delicious.

      Swiss chard is an abundant crop in Southern France which makes dessert a clever way to use up excess chard. One thing is for certain, this tart was not created just to make the dessert more nutrient dense or higher fiber–this is not the French way of eating. I discovered this tart from parents of a chef friend who invited me to dinner at their home near Falicon, North of Nice.

      Why is this tart delicious?

      The French approach to this dessert balances the sweet with the delicate tang of chard and bright citrus notes. The quick and easy light custard contrasts with crunchy, toasted hazelnuts and a low-sugar, brown-butter crust (the easiest “French” crust ever).

      Why make this sweet tart with greens?

      • It’s surprisingly delicious and unique
      • It’s stealth nutrition (adds fiber and potassium)
      • It holds well for a 2-3 days
      • You’ve wondered what else to do with chard
      • Experience some history–the tart has Medieval origins

       

      Swiss Chard Hazelnut Dessert Tart Recipe

      Serves 8

      Filling Ingredients:
      • ¾ pound of whole fresh Swiss chard leaf stalks (about 3.5 ounces with stems removed)
      • ¼ cup sugar
      • 2 large eggs
      • 1 egg yolk from a large egg
      • 1 ¼ cup whole milk
      • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
      • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (about half a large orange)
      • ½ cup of whole toasted skinless hazelnuts, chopped
      • 1-2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar
      Tart Dough:

      You can use a favorite tart recipe or pre-made tart dough that works for a 9-inch tart pan or use the following easiest, quickest, “non-French” tart recipe I’ve ever made.

      Swiss Chard Steps:
      1. Prepare to blanch the chard; however, if all the leaves are small, young, thin and supple, you could skip this step (see culinary nutrition notes below). Put a large pot of water (about 2½ quarts or enough to cover the chard leaves) over medium heat. Have a colander nearby and some cold water available.
      2. Rinse the Swiss chard, remove the stems—cutting with a knife is preferred over hand tearing the leaves, since this can leave you with bits and pieces that are a bother if you blanch the chard. When the water is simmering (not boiling), add the leaves all at once. Press the leaves into the water to cover then remove after 45 seconds depending on when the leaves become soft and pliable (too much heat dulls the color.) Thick, dense chard leaves will take more time.
      3. Pour the chard into the colander and rinse with cold water or pour cold water over and around the leaves to stop further color loss. When cool enough to touch, squeeze out the excess water with your hands then chop.

       

      Custard Steps: Turn oven to 400˚F (204˚C)
      1. For the hazelnuts, lightly toast them and remove the skins if you purchased whole, raw nuts. Chop the nuts into roughly ¼ inch bits (I scoop up the nuts and shake out the smaller bits and “nut dust” between my fingers.
      2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, yolk, milk, vanilla and zest. Stir in the chopped Swiss Chard.
      3. Pour mixture into the tart pan of the pre-cooked dough and place on the middle rack. Sprinkle the hazelnuts evenly across the top and lightly press them into the custard. Bake 30-34 minutes or until custard looks set—test with a toothpick inserted into the custard for a clean removal.
      4. Serve slightly chilled, and just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
      • Young, supple or pliable fresh Swiss chard leaves could be used without the blanching step by cutting the chard chiffonade style (removing the stem, layering the leaves, rolling them up into a cylinder shape and cutting the leaves into thin strips). Cut the thin strips in half lengthwise to make smaller pieces. Place these in a bowl and let them sit for at least 30 minutes or until they soften further. As long as they feel soft and supple, they will work well in the tart.
      • Most often veggies are blanched (simmering water for 30 seconds or more) in salted water to improve the flavor; however, I don’t find it benefits this dessert.
      • Swiss Chard has some naturally salt-seasoning—this amount has about 200 mg of sodium for the entire recipe which is a low level of sodium.
      This dish is rich in culture and historical origins so despite making changes to simplify this dessert, I want to honor the traditional ingredients and techniques by mentioning them:
      • Pine nuts are traditional, but sometimes fresh (non-oxidized/non-rancid) pine nuts are hard to find, instead I use hazelnuts which add an attractive crunch and flavor.
      • Lemon zest: I substituted with orange zest because Swiss chard adds tang and orange pairs well with it.
      • A Tourte: Tourtes have a dough topping and are more common with this dessert, but I prefer tarts they are easier and faster to and without a top crust, it’s less dense and lower calorie.
      • Alcohol: Brandy, eau de vie or pastis are used, instead I added pure vanilla extract as a more common flavor agent.
      • Other traditional ingredients: raisins, pears, Parmesan are also often included.
      Swiss chard leaf stalk stack
      “The cultural identity of Nice is grounded in Swiss Chard, I am not at all exaggerating”

      “L’identité culturelle niçoise s’est forgée dans la blette, je n’exagère rien”

      Blog post quote by

      Camille Oger

        About Me

        The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
        Michele Redmond

        Michele Redmond

        French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

        It's about Making Food First

        Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

        Galettes de Bretagne or Buckwheat Crêpes

        Galettes de Bretagne or Buckwheat Crêpes

        Galettes de Bretagne or Buckwheat Crêpes

        When I ask other Americans about a French food they are most familiar with, crêpes are at the top of the list. In cooking classes, we often make crêpes because they are the easiest fancy food ever.

        “Crêpes have a gourmet mystique

        yet fold into on-the-go street food and with a few tricks are easy to make.”

         

        My favorite types are galettes de Bretagne or buckwheat crêpes which originated from Brittany in Northwest France. Buckwheat (Sarrasin in French) crêpes don’t look or taste like most crêpes served in the U.S. From a sensory perspective, the color, when cooked is a toasty brown, the texture is crispy around the edges and are made thicker than all-purpose flour crepes.

        This first crêpe from Crêperie Josselin in Paris is filled spinach and goat cheese and served with the required alcoholic cider beverage.

        Buckwheat crêpes: healthy, happy eating

        Nutritionally, for people who must eat gluten-free, buckwheat crêpes can expand their food options. But for eaters without restrictions, these are a fun addition to your meal time for both savory and sweet dishes. I will be posting some recipes and nutritional details in upcoming posts.

        Crepe Brittany Josselin ed

        My egg and “lardon” crêpe may cause some hesitation by those avoiding dietary cholesterol but I was hungry after four hours of walking about Paris running errands.

        “I didn’t hesitate because dietary cholesterol doesn’t have a significant impact on blood serum cholesterol levels.”*

        Also, because I don’t eat based on the amount of exercise I do, rather I eat when I feel hungry and what appeals to me per my no-food-rules life.

        I confess to only eating half this crêpe and sadly leaving the rest behind as it was too filling. Next time, I bring a friend to split with me so I can have a salted caramel dessert crêpe!

        Crêperie Josselin https://plus.google.com/104826267487524352578/about?gl=us&hl=en Buckwheat Crêpes josselin

         

         

        *The 2015 Dietary Guidelines and decades of research! This applies to the majority of people even those with high cholesterol blood serum levels; however, there’s always exceptions as everyone is unique.

          About Me

          The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
          Michele Redmond

          Michele Redmond

          French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

          It's about Making Food First

          Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

          Culinary Nutrition & Fats: Le Cordon Bleu, Paris

          Culinary Nutrition & Fats: Le Cordon Bleu, Paris

          Culinary Nutrition & Fats: Le Cordon Bleu, Paris

          Culinary Nutrition in Paris: Fats that Give Back

          We launched this culinary nutrition fats class by discussing dietary fat myths and questions such as:

          • Can cooking oils become less healthy upon heating?Culinary nutrition fats LCB coconut oil
          • Does coconut oil stimulate weight loss?
          • Is coconut oil an all-purpose oil?
          • Is olive oil really the better oil for health?
          • What’s the latest on saturated fats and butter in healthy diets?
          • What happens when you eat higher carb foods with fattier foods?

          Culinary Nutrition: “Fat” Techniques

          We explored further questions during the class culinary techniques and tips such as:

          • Why do smoke points matter for food quality and taste?
          • How smoke points relate to culinary techniques & health?
          • What are the best tricks for non-stick sauté & tasty results?

            Culinary nutrition questions and answers

            Culinary technique questions in my favorite demo room

          • Which techniques pair with different oils?
          • What happens when you mix a low and high smoke point fat?
          • Clarified butter uses and can you overheat it? (we did a live test of this thanks to a curious student!)
          • How does Culinary Nutrition relate to cooking great tasting food and health?

          Slurping Fats for Flavor

          Palates were challenged with an olive oil tasting. Participants tasted two mystery French (Oils A & B) and one mystery Italian olive oil (Oil C).Culinary nutrition fats olive oil tasting

          How do you taste oils? Briefly follow the steps below but for more detailed info, email me for a handout.

          • Sniff
          • Slurp (rudely works best)
          • Feel
          • Swallow
          • Breathe out

          Participants discussed what aromas and flavors they perceived, rated the oils and guessed their sources and types.

          Olive oil

          Many students guessed the Italian versus the French versions.
          The Italian version was from Umbria and had complex notes of grass, artichoke, spice and a creamy finish with hints of pepper.

          This pricey oil (29 euros) limits it to finishing techniques and vinaigrettes. This can be found at http://www.oliviersandco.com/il-tempio-dell-oro-olive-oil.html

          Another olive oil was Puget which has made oils in France since 1857. It had high acidity and a pungent and peppery finish–a good all-purpose affordable oil. This can be found at any grocery in France.Olive oil puget

          Food Tastings and Recipes

          Tastings are designed to illustrate key differences in flavor components of cooking oils and fats and how techniques affect flavor. Key culinary techniques such as key tips for “non-stick” saute and knowing the four signs that a cooking oil is ready relate to flavor in several ways.

          Recipes are developed to be straight forward with quick prep but maximize flavors, textures and balance or highlight the five tastants. Recipes developed by the Taste Workshop for this class and tastings included:Lemon olive oil sorbet edcpfav

           

              • Salmon rillettes with hint of spice & citrus
              • Besan shrimp fritters w/ catsup chutney
              • Crispy chicken with sherry-vinegar mustard pan sauce
              • Meen Molee (Fish with coconut, lime and spices)
              • Citrusy almond and cornmeal olive oil cake with tangerine and Grand Marnier glaze
              • Lemon olive oil sorbet

           

          Thanks to LCB Paris and WICE for amazing support and for the interesting and engaged participants for this class. For more info visit:Le Cordon Bleu, Paris and WICE Culinary events

            About Me

            The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
            Michele Redmond

            Michele Redmond

            French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

            It's about Making Food First

            Get Taste Workshop periodic updates on easy ways to choose and cook foods that satisfy your appetite, nurture your body and make eating well a pleasure.

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