This text is part of the special Plaisirs booklet
Revamped or traditional, smooth or liquid, with or without marshmallow and whipped cream… Chocolatiers and pastry chefs reveal their secrets to us for obtaining the best hot chocolate.
“It’s a great subject! Enthuses Catherine Goulet, owner and founder of Avanaa, a chocolate factory based in Montreal. “It doesn’t sound like much, but we worked on our recipe for months. Hot chocolate warms up inside: it’s comfort, nostalgia, ”she adds.
While the variations and recipes for a good hot chocolate are endless, the experts we meet are unanimous: to ensure an optimal taste experience, you have to rely on quality ingredients. “The quality of the raw material plays a key role in the success of hot chocolate. You have to use quality chocolate, ”maintains Patrice Demers, from Patrice Pâtissier. Then it’s all a matter of taste.
From the simplest …
For Stéphanie Bélanger, Etat de choc, a high-end chocolate boutique located on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, the best hot chocolate is the one with the fewest ingredients possible. “We work with chocolate bean to bar, transformed into a small lot mainly in Montreal, ”she explains. For her hot chocolate, the chef chocolatière selects her favorite chocolate and adds only water: “I don’t use cocoa powder, really just chocolate. If I want hot chocolate with milk, I choose milk chocolate. “
In the simmering water, she adds the crushed chocolate, lower the heat and simply whisk. Results ? A rich drink, without being a very thick ganache. The idea is to taste all the subtleties of chocolate and to respect the taste of the bean. “From year to year, the taste of chocolate varies, because the temperature, for example, has influenced the bean” continues the chocolate maker. Stéphanie Bélanger’s favorite chocolate is currently a 76% dark Monarque chocolate with a unique taste profile, produced from beans from the Philippines.
Avanaa’s hot chocolates are also as simple as possible. “You have to find the right bean, because in a hot liquid, it can be very unpleasant” observes Catherine Goulet. For their hot chocolates, offered to take away or in mixes to prepare at home, the team set out in search of the perfect bean, which would taste chocolate with hints of nuts and fruits. Catherine Goulet also adds a little quality cocoa powder, organic and artisanal, which gives a particular emulsion and more depth in the mouth. She then mixes a quantity of water for two of milk, ideally oats.
… to the most elaborate
To prepare his hot chocolate, Patrice Demers uses both cocoa powder and chocolate, to create a balance between texture and taste. “I like the mix of the two. Cocoa allows a certain intensity of flavor, and chocolate brings smoothness, ”he explains. The pastry chef works with Valrhona chocolate, “but today we find a multitude of good chocolates on the market, even in grocery stores,” he emphasizes.
If the water leaves plenty of room for the chocolate to express itself, the pastry chef still uses milk (3.8%, ideally) for its lactic side, which he appreciates. “Oat or almond milks are also good options, rather than soy, which has a bitter taste,” he notes. It lightly flavors its drink with a spicy sugar or a little vanilla for a lively finish that does not mask the taste of the main ingredient. Patrice Pâtissier’s hot chocolate remains relatively simple, with a few exceptions, on special occasions; last year, he prepared a hot chocolate with a contrast topped it with an airy custard mousse.
To achieve this, Patrice Demers makes a spicy sugar made from cinnamon, anise, cardamom and chili, to which he adds his cocoa. The mixture is then poured over lukewarm milk, then brought to a boil and whipped constantly. “The important thing is to make a good emulsion, so that the cocoa fat mixes with the liquid. »Using a mixer foot can also help create good friction. When ready to serve, the pastry chef warms the drink with a milk frother, for a light and creamy texture. Otherwise, just whisk vigorously in a saucepan and be careful not to burn the chocolate.
Wetsuits to test
“I tend to go for spices rather than herbs for hot chocolate. It’s a question of the season; the spices bring a comforting side ”explains Patrice Demers. Chili, cardamom and cinnamon are especially tasty with chocolate. In addition to experimenting with the types of chocolate, we can of course add a little chilli pepper, as in Mexico, or even sweet clover, a product from Quebec that approaches vanilla, while reminiscent of bitter almonds and the hay. For older children, an infusion of coffee or tea bean (we think of teas with an oxidative profile, such as oolong or black teas) goes well with chocolate. As for the orange and star anise, they delicately flavor the chocolate on Christmas Eve. Maple finally brings an interesting earthy side.
All you have to do is choose your favorite combination!