Armande plumped into the chair and took her glass in both hands. She looked eager as a child, her eyes shining, her expression rapt.
"Mmmm." It was more than appreciation. It was almost reverence.
"Mmmmmm." She had closed her eyes as she tasted the drink. Her pleasure was almost frightening.
"This is the real thing, isn't it?" She paused for a moment, bright eyes speculatively half-closed.
"There's cream, and - cinnamon, I think - and what else? Tia Maria?"
"Close enough," I said.
"What's forbidden always tastes better anyway."
Chocolat, Joanne Harris, Chapter Twelve
When I first arrived to England, more than five years ago, I knew three people in London. One was my very dear friend Reilly, who has (sadly for me) since moved back to Australia in search of sunnier shores and warmer climes. Every Saturday, she and I would trek over to Turnham Green in pursuit of secondhand novels, vintage scarves and the perfect hot chocolate, one that reminded her of her favourite book, Chocolat.
I have long since abandoned the tedious journey on the trundling District Line; it's just not the same without Reilly waiting at the other end. But this hot chocolate, with its warming hint of cinnamon and paprika, is a tribute to her, those treasured Saturdays, and our shared love of Vianne, Anouk, and their wonderful chocolaterie.
ps. This mocha recipe kicks off a very special Chocolat long weekend, in celebration of the Easter festival in the final pages of this wonderful foodie book. Come back tomorrow and on Easter Sunday for more chocolate based treats!
1tbsp ground coffee
1/4tsp ground cinnamon
75g good quality chocolate
50mL whipping cream
Large pinch sweet paprika
Shaved chocolate and pinch cinnamon (to decorate)
Bialetti (or similar stove-top coffee maker)
1. Make a shot of espresso, as strong as you can. My friend Nic (the most prolific coffee drinker I know) put me onto a neat little trick that really boosts the flavour - add the cinnamon into the ground coffee before you put it into whatever machine you use to make a brew.
2. Break your chocolate into pieces and place into the jug. Pour the hot coffee (now infused with cinnamon) over the chocolate and allow it to melt. Don't stir until most of the chocolate has been incorporated into the coffee. Once it has come together, stir quickly until you're sure that all the chocolate has melted.
3. Whisk the cream by hand in a bowl until soft peaks form. Set aside until you're ready to serve the mocha.
4. Add the Kahlua and paprika to the mocha and stir. Warm the mixture over a saucepan of simmering water, or a direct flame if your jug can stand it. Once hot, pour into a glass or mug, and top with a large spoonful of the cream, the chocolate shavings and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve immediately.