STRONG HOT CHOCOLATE
Start to finish: 15 minutes
11/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 percent cacao), coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 to 3 grains fleur de sel (French sea salt)
8 marshmallows (or whipped cream)
Off the heat, in a 1-quart saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use the tip of your knife to scrape the seeds into the saucepan, then add the scraped pod.
Whisk the cocoa powder and brown sugar into the milk, then place the saucepan over medium heat and whisk for 5 to 7 minutes, or until frothy and simmering.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Remove and discard the vanilla pod from the milk mixture, then pour the mixture over the chocolate. Add the salt and whisk until the chocolate is smooth.
Divide the hot chocolate among cups and top each with 2 marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream. Can be cooled, tightly covered and refrigerated up to 3 days.
Recipe from Elizabeth Falkner's Demolition Desserts (Ten Speed Press, 2007, $35)