You may think we’re crazy to create a hot chocolate recipe during the dog days of summer when at least one of us is consistently experiencing days in the triple digit temperatures, but we swear the heat hasn’t addled our brains—let us explain. In our meanderings through our Twitter feed (@ReadThisEatThat, y’all!), we came across this contest that author Ellen Kushner is hosting to celebrate the impending release of the audiobook of The Fall of the Kings. The contest involves creating a recipe inspired by any of the Riverside books.
With our long(ish) and storied history of creating recipes inspired by books (see exhibits A, B, C, and D), not to mention the many feasts of GRRM proportions Alyssa has created with the help of Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer’s wonderful A Feast of Ice and Fire, we thought this bookgeeky fun sounded right up our alley. We did some cross-country collaboration via the magic of Skype, and produced this lovely cup of chocolate to throw into the ring (which we wouldn’t actually do, of course…much too tasty to spill!). It is thick and rich and decadent, and the spices add an intoxicating and kicky element you won’t find in your run-of-the-mill Swiss Miss packets. The light treats to accompany it allow the chocolate to remain the star of the show, but the brightness of the tart-sweet strawberry jam and orange slices serves as a nice contrast to the creaminess of the chocolate, and the blueberries add a mellow freshness to the spread.
Spiced Chocolate with Strawberry Jam on Oat Toast and Fresh Fruit
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1-2 dashes red cayenne pepper
1 C. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 small handful semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1 slice oat bread
1 small handful fresh blueberries
- Combine the cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a mortar and pestle. Grind it all together until it is well-mixed and a uniform, powdery consistency. This might seem like a pain in the patoot extra step, but it will help the spices suspend in the chocolate later, so you don’t get a bunch of gritty stuff swirling around in the bottom of your cup.
- Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the vanilla.
- When the milk has heated up a bit, stir in the chocolate chips. Stir regularly to prevent the milk from burning and to combine the melting chips with the milk.
- Are you still stirring? We don’t want burnt milk! When it comes to a low simmer, add the cocoa powder and the brown sugar. Get out Susan’s favorite kitchen utensil, the small whisk, and whisk the mixture until the liquid is a uniform, blended consistency. (At this point, photography mysteriously ceased.)
- Now, take a 1/2 tsp of the Proprietary Spice Blend® you so lovingly created with your mortar and pestle, and whisk it into the chocolate. (There will be some left over, which you can store and use for future chocolate-making.) Whisk vigorously for a minute or so to aerate the beverage and suspend the spices throughout.
- As for the treats, it’s really quite simple. If you’re good at multitasking and can prepare the snacks while making the chocolate and not accidentally end up with scalded milk, then by all means do so! First, toast your oat bread.
- When it’s a nice golden brown, cut the crusts off and give them to a cute dog you know. Cut the bread on the diagonal, and spread the strawberry jam (homemade freezer jam in our case) on both pieces.
- Peel the orange and separate into wedges, taking off as much of the icky white stuff as you deem necessary. Rinse the blueberries, too.
- Arrange the toast and fruit artfully on a plate, transfer the chocolate to your best china teacup or other favorite drinking vessel, and enjoy! (We approve of dunking your orange slices in the chocolate for extra tastiness.)
Feeling inspired? You can still enter the contest, too! It closes at midnight tonight, and you can find out more details here. Don’t forget to check out the new audiobook when it comes out on August 27th, and in the mean time you can catch up on the previous audiobooks in the series! Have you checked out this series before? What are some other books whose food-inspiration you’d like to see brought to life?