You know when a craving hits, and all of sudden you’re racing into the kitchen and rummaging in your cupboards, crossing your fingers that you happen to have everything you need to satisfy it? Yeah, that happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I was home alone and in need of something sweet. Something chocolately. Something warm. I’ve been on a coconut kick lately (these double coconut cupcakes were amazing!) and so I hoped and prayed that I had some coconut milk tucked away somewhere. I did. The only thing I didn’t have was any actual chocolate! The dilemma fresh in my mind, I decided to make hot chocolate anyway. I remembered a recipe from the Food Network where cornstarch was used to make an incredibly thick hot chocolate, and hoped that mine would be rich enough to stay my craving even though there was no actual chocolate involved.
I’m a big fan of chocolate. After years of living in France, traditional American chocolate cakes made only with cocoa powder just don’t do it for me anymore. French chocolate cake is made from melted dark chocolate and butter with just a touch of flour, and is more like what we consider a brownie. I guess I’m a bit spoiled, and I now have a hard time drinking hot chocolate that isn’t made from real bits of melted bars. There’s an amazing place to get hot chocolate on the rue Montorgueil in Paris. They sell dozens of different flavors of chocolate bars by weight. When you walk into the shop and ask for a hot chocolate, they ask what kind you’d like as a base. Then comes the sampling, and the hard decisions and finally the clerk chops of a hefty block of whatever you’ve chosen and makes the richest, thickest, tastiest hot chocolate you’ve ever had.
That’s what I wanted at home. Only, no chocolate. So, I did the next best thing, spicing my cocoa concoction up with coconut milk and freshly toasted flakes of coconut, and of course thickened it generously with the help of a little cornstarch and you know what? It was fabulous. It was chocolately and full of coconut flavor and so thick that when I put it in a tupperware dish to let it cool and refrigerate it for the next day, it basically turned into chocolate coconut pudding. This stuff keeps really well in the fridge and should be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave with a little extra milk to de-pudding it a bit. Oh, and if you’ve got a bar of chocolate sitting around the house, please, please throw it into the mix (and cut down on the cornstarch).
Thick coconut hot chocolate
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/3 C hot chocolate mix
1 can coconut milk
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 C toasted coconut
3-4 C milk
2 t cornstarch
In a large saucepan, begin by heating the coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk over low heat for about 3-5 minutes. This is just to thicken them up and reduce them slightly (the thicker the base product is, the less cornstarch we have to add, thus diluting the flavor as little as possible!). Stir in the cocoa powder and hot chocolate mix (or only one or the other, but doubled, if you don’t have both) and continue mixing over low heat until well combined. The cocoa powder will resist here, but you should be able to incorporate it eventually. Now gradually stir in the milk, whisking constantly, until you get a smooth and homogenous mixture. Let the hot chocolate cook for about 10 minutes at this point, melding all the flavors together.
Now you’re ready for the cornstarch. In a small bowl, add the cornstarch and break up any lumps with a whisk. Using a ladle, grab some hot chocolate and add it slowly to the cornstarch, whisking furiously to prevent lumps. Once all the cornstarch is incorporated, add the mixture to your hot chocolate and heat for a few minutes longer, until the mixture is thick and fragrant.
Take out a mug. Dip the rim of your mug into the hot chocolate, essentially making a chocolately glue to hold your coconut on. Dip the rim into the toasted coconut and fill with hot chocolate. Sip immediately, being careful not to burn yourself as the chocolate will be very hot at this point. Enjoy!