2 cups boiling water
1 chili pepper, cut in half with seeds removed (I recommend using sweet ancho chili peppers)* see note below
5 cups light cream or whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1-2 cinnamon sticks
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate or 3 tablets Mexican chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar or honey to taste
1 tablespoon almonds or hazelnuts, ground extra-fine
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add chili pepper to boiling water.
2. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Remove chili pepper; strain water and set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream or milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick until bubbles appear around the edge.
4. Reduce heat to low; add chocolate and sugar or honey, whisking occasionally until chocolate is melted and sugar dissolves.
5. Turn off heat, remove vanilla bean and cinnamon stick.
6. Add chili-infused water, a little at a time, tasting to make sure the flavor isn't too strong. If chocolate is too thick, thin with a little more milk.
7. Serve in small cups or glass mugs and offer ground almonds or hazelnuts and whipped cream. Garnish each serving with a cinnamon stick.
For a hot chocolate with a little more "heat", top with whipped cream and sprinkle a small bit of ground sweet ancho chili pepper over the whipped cream.
Use kitchen gloves when cutting the chile pepper in half and removing seeds.
Makes 4 servings.
Date: December 15, 2004