Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Vigilance Orange and Chocolat Chaud à la Ancienne

So all of today, our region, along with several others in Bretagne, Normandy and the Loire, is under a heightened weather alert for 24 hours. This basically means the rubbish and recycling trucks were cancelled (and I could sleep past 6.30 on a Wednesday,) ALL local buses and school transport is cancelled (but my oldest daughter still tecked into collége as THEY aren't fermé,) and people are advised to stay home unless directly necessary since the gritter trucks have NOT been past on anything save the major highways.

Now normally I wouldn't care a bean, since I can just curl up with my youngest daughter and two purrRRrrRRring cats in front of the (electric, oil-filled) fire and stay warm, drink chocolat chaud à la ancienne, turning the vile box of chocolate truffles we received as a obvious afterthought from a friend, into something actually de-lish.

(OK, now on THAT score, just say, "I'm sorry, I completely forgot to get you anything, can I make it up later?" when I hand you your carefully wrapped and thoughtfully chosen present, don't put us in the sitting room with Gran, who is deaf, and your nieces and nephews who are on The Sugar High from Hell, and bustle off to return with a box of truffles (minus one) shoved into a Christmas gift bag and spout, "Happy Christmas! I know how you love chockkies!" I mean, please?)

So normally, I'd just be happy to watch the flacons de neige fall from the sky and marvel how this 'light dusting of snow' (by Vermont Standards) has basically gridlocked Central Bretagne.

But TODAY is the first day of Les Soldes d'Hiver - the Winter Sales, here in France, which go on for 6 weeks, then end. Period, by law, stop.

Now, as someone who worked many years in Retail in California, (May Company, Mikasa, etc. 'Which would you rather do? Work in Retail or drive a nail through your hand? Hmm... how big is the nail?') my first thought was, "Seriously? You have a 'Sale Season' twice a year mandated by law... and you can't just have for instance, a One-Day Sale, whenever you please, outside of that? You must be joking." But it's the truth. If, for instance, your business is closing down, (as Vétimarché is doing right now all over France,) you have to apply to the Government for a special waiver that has a start and end date, you have to pay for this privilege and a copy of the 'writ' giving express permission must be posted on the premises. Whoa.

Ah well, the Sales will have to start without me today, however, it better be nice for the weekend, since I want to take my girls, and the money I've set aside, and go shopping in either Saint Brieuc or Lorient or possibly Rennes.

But for today, I think I'll just sit here and admire this falling snow outside my window. And have another mug of Hot Chocolate.

This recipe that follows is one that was served here in France to Aristocrats before that whole kerfuffle in 1789. Now it can be enjoyed by any citoyen, and you as well, I hope. Then at the end, I give my quick version.

Chocolat Chaud à la Ancienne
This recipe is prepared the day before and gives 4 cups.

125 ml (1/2 cup) water
150g (1 cup) bittersweet 65% chocolate chopped or chocolate chips
650 ml (2 2/3 cups) milk
Vanilla extract and pinch of cinnamon to taste

1. Heat water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
2. On low heat, add chocolate and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has completely melted.
3. Add remaining ingredients and heat slowly, stirring constantly just to the boiling point. Remove from heat.
4. Maturation: Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
5. Service: Heat the chocolate in a double boiler or in a large microwave safe container in the microwave. When heated, use either an electric hand blender or a immersion blender to whip and aerate the hot chocolate.

The extra step of 'Maturation' allows the chocolate to absorb the milk proteins into it's structure and gives a thick and luxurious 'mouth feel' which is usually achieved with guar gum, or the like, with instant.

Now MY quick take: Put 4-5 crappy truffles and a couple squares of plain, dark chocolate in an inch of water in the LARGE mug or a glass pyrex measuring cup. Zap in Microwave until the chocolate is warm and stirring with a spoon makes it go completely smooth and gooshy. Fill the mug or pyrex container with about ½ whole milk and nuke it again for a minute, take out and stir, zap again and stir. When the chocolate is completely blended in, add a bit more milk and microwave one last time. I like a pinch of cinnamon and a drop or two of pure vanilla extract and YOU can add whipped cream or marshmallows, if you so desire, but, it's actually great just as is. Enjoy!


Katherine said...

I think we know the same person! I got a box of indifferent truffles this year too. But they were all there. Will try this recipe out! (the quick version).

Victoria (The District Chocoholic) said...

Cinnamon and chocolate are so wonderful together. Nice recipe.

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