soup -- imagine the chocolate milk of your happy
childhood crossed with a bowl of melted ganache and
you get the idea.
lovers do not, of course, need designated holidays to
celebrate the heady stuff. We eat it for breakfast, put it
on toast, give it to our children, hoard it for emergencies
— political, natural, emotional — and use it as currency
of one kind or another. Giving your beloved some chocolate,
however, can be dangerous, because boxes of the confection
can be loaded not just with sugar but with expectation. I
was once presented with a heart-shaped box of mediocre
supermarket chocolate by a well-meaning, earnest person who
was baffled when I retreated in silence with my cocoa-dusted
copy of "The True History of Chocolate." Maybe don’t
direct your beloved to an excellent chocolatier or head into
the kitchen and take matters into your own hands. Sure, you
can make something predictable, such as a chocolate souffle
or even a batch of brownies, but instead, how about serving
your chocolate in liquid form and making a bowl of soup?
the chocolate milk of your happy childhood crossed with a
bowl of melted ganache and you get the idea. It’s absurdly
easy to make (heat milk, pour over chocolate), and you can
flavor the concoction or dress up its presentation in
impressively baroque fashion.
Boulud has a version spiked with Sichuan peppercorns and
adorned with caramel whipped cream; pastry chef Johnny
Iuzzini’s comes flavored with juniper berries and topped
with Cocoa Puffs (the cereal of his childhood). And on
YouTube you can watch a young Jacques Torres make his baked
chocolate soup (with bananas, caramel, meringue) for none
other than Julia Child. ("Is this a classical dessert,
chef?" asks Child, peering at the tureen. "No, I
just try and put whatever I like," says the French
pastry chef, "together in a different way."
"An excellent idea," croons Child.)
a purist, you don’t have to flavor the heated milk for
your soup at all: Just add a pinch of salt to the hot milk
and pour it over the chocolate. But it’s hard to resist
throwing in some spices — a bit of cinnamon and cardamom
torque up the chocolate beautifully. And if you like to
experiment: maybe ginger, turmeric, allspice, nutmeg, black
pepper, even curry if you want to go down the spice route a
bit. By all means toss your spices in whole and then filter
them out with a strainer, or wind them up in cheesecloth.
is also a terrific playground for heat. Add cayenne or ancho
chiles, which are lovely matched with cinnamon. Or dose your
chocolate with the unreasonably addictive Urfa biber, a
fantastic Turkish chile that’s both smoky and vaguely
of your pot of hot milk as a conduit, not unlike a dessert
custard base. Steep orange or lemon peel, or add tea —
Earl Grey and jasmine are both outstanding with chocolate
— or even rose petals, of which you might have a few
around for the occasion. You can also, of course, douse your
soup with espresso, or add booze in the form of your
favorite liquor, or a few shots of whiskey. Then pour the
hot milk over the chocolate and whisk it into a velvety
and that chocolate? Even if you’re the sort of person who
secretly eats vending machine candy bars for dinner (guilty)
or throws back chocolate chips like medicine, try to source
the highest quality chocolate you can for your bowl of soup.
Pick your percentage (many of us default to 70 percent
Valrhona), but use the good stuff, as lesser quality
chocolate can make your soup separate, or at the very least
won’t mix into the kind of intoxicating, rich liquid that
you want. As for the mixing, a basic whisk is fine, or an
immersion blender is fun if you have one. If you have a milk
frother, that’s great too. Or you can do what the
cacao-loving, pre-Hispanic Mexicans did and mix your
chocolate by pouring it from one bowl to another like a kind
of graduated waterfall.
or mug — or thermos-full — of chocolate soup is fine on
its own, of course, but there are so many things you can
serve with it.
fresh fruit — the deep crimson of raspberries or
strawberries or pomegranate seeds looks pretty great — or
marshmallows, especially if you’re feeling nostalgic for
your campfire childhood. Add whole meringues to make a kind
of retro floating island dessert, or smash a few and
sprinkle them over the surface like edible broken pottery.
whipped cream into your soup — some of us serve our bowls
of soup with equally large bowls of whipped cream. Or add a
thick slice of rye or whole wheat bread. Toast or broil a
slice, grate chocolate over the top, drizzle on some olive
oil and add a confetti of Maldon salt — Ferran Adrià
famously made this Catalonian children’s favorite for
family meals at the late El Bulli — and you pretty much
have breakfast. Which is maybe the romantic kind of meal you
want from this anyway.
minutes. Makes about 1 quart soup.
teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground cardamom
ounces 70 percent very high-quality chocolate, preferably
heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until
it is just about to boil, about 10 minutes. Remove from
heat, stir in the salt, cinnamon and cardamom and set aside
to steep for a half hour or so. Meanwhile, chop or break up
the chocolate and place in a bowl. Reheat the milk until it
just comes to a boil, then remove from heat and strain
through a fine mesh sieve over the chocolate. Stir until the
chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Taste, and
adjust sweetness with sugar if desired. Serve the soup in
small bowls; the soup can also be made ahead of time,
chilled and then reheated before serving.
From Amy Scattergood.