Want to save money? Give him THIS for the holidays!

I have been going on and on and ON about how much I love Joanne Harris' and Fran Warde's cookbooks.  I'm a friggin broken record.  But, ah, I've had an ace up my sleeve, the pièce de résistance to show off how truly awesome these books are.

Remember Chocolat (the movie)?  When Juliette Binoche (whose wardrobe in this movie I want for my very own) makes the hot chocolate for Judi Dench?  Of course it has the chili pepper in it and, upon first sip, Judi Dench gets that sexy smile and laughs that deep sexy laugh.  Who knew that Judi Dench could be sexy?  It must be the hot chocolate.

Without further ado, I give you - from My French Kitchen - Vianne's Spiced Hot Chocolate:

* the crowd goes WILD! *

My pictures suck as usual but all I have to say is...DAMN.  This was amazing.  I'll just give you the recipe and you'll understand what I mean:

1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 hot red chile, halved and seeded
3 1/2 oz bittersweet (70 percent) chocolate
Brown sugar to taste (optional - I left it out and encourage you to)
Whipped cream, chocolate curls, cognac or Amaretto, to serve

Place milk in a saucepan, add the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, and chile, and gently bring to a "shivering simmer" for 1 minute.  Grate the chocolate and whisk it in until it melts (I didn't grate it - I had those bite-size chocolate pieces and just added them in one by one).  If you're adding brown sugar (don't do it!), this is the point where you put it in.  Take off heat and allow it to infuse for 10 minutes (this is where it gets all thick like molasses...in the best way possible).  Remove the vanilla, cinnamon, and chile.  Return to the heat and bring gently back to a simmer.  Serve in mugs topped with whipped cream, chocolate curls, or a dash of cognac or Amaretto.

We only used the whipped cream (homemade, of course), and I don't see myself ever adding in the cognac or Amaretto.   The hot chocolate was perfect without it and one doesn't mess with perfection.  And I don't mind adding that drinking this with Adam after Kiddo went to bed was downright sexy.  Seriously, you must try this.

Eat, drink, and indulge in perfection.

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