At the outset of this summer, I had only a few things on my agenda: a baby (check!), a garden (check!, but oof*) and as many frozen desserts that do not require an ice cream maker as possible. And sure, from toasted marshmallow milkshakes to swirled berry yogurt (breakfast) popsicles, saltine crack ice cream sandwiches, strawberry cheesecake ice cream pie and raspberry crushed ice, it’s been a good time. But as summer isn’t over, I’m not done yet either.
The concept of Frozen Hot Chocolate was made famous by a restaurant on East 60th Street** that I’ve only been to once in my 15 years here, when I was pretty underwhelmed by the signature dessert. As it boasts a cringe-worthy spelling [“Frrrozen” Hot Chocolate] and presentation [it’s intentionally overflowing, as it to shame you with sticky fingers for touching it], all from a restaurant with no shortage of things to make you wince [it’s a 2007 Guinness World Record holder for the Most Expensive Dessert, a gold-leafed sundae clocking in at $1,000 and in 2012 for Most Expensive Burger, a $295 number with three different formats of truffles], I probably should have seen this coming. The massive goblet they brought to the table managed to be excessively sweet, bland and overpriced, like the Overhyped Trifecta. Ahem, not that I need to learn how to form an opinion or anything.
But I never fell out of infatuation with the idea of all it could have been, which in my mind would have been a perfect summer milkshake, more icy than ice cream, i.e. all of the greatness of chocolate but so much less heft because it’s too hot out to eat foods that slow you down. It just took me 15 years to make it right on my own. I turned, surprising myself, to a so-called authentic version of the original I found on the web, which was just a couple small tweaks away from tasting nothing like the restaurant version in all of the best ways. It’s dead simple. You make a very potent hot chocolate with melted bittersweet chocolate, a scant amount of sugar and even smaller amount of cocoa, get it really cold, and blend it with twice its volume of ice before pouring it into glasses and topping it with a raft of whipped cream and twirly shavings of chocolate.
And you wait on absolutely no line to get it. You open no lines of credit to afford it. You get to drink it with both a straw and spoon. I think we all know what needs to be done.
* The garden began with reasonable goals: a few tomato seedlings, sunflower seeds, potted herbs and herb seed packets. The garden is currently five tomato plants, each taller than me, four cucumber plants sprawling everywhere, ignorant of their climbing trellis, skinny green beans, baby tomatillos, chickpeas, strawberries, a veritable field of sunflowers and 11 herbs, including dill, basil, chives, parsley, shiso, thyme, sage, nepitella, rosemary, cilantro and oregano, not to mention a seed-drying operation and a butterfly hatchery. I’ve got things completely in control, obviously.
One year ago: Three Ingredient Summertime Salsa and Blueberry Crumb Cake
Two years ago: Burst Tomato Galette with Corn and Zucchini
Three years ago: Charred Pepper Steak Sauce
Four years ago: Tomato Salad with Crushed Croutons
Five years ago: Sweet and Smoky Oven Spare Ribs and Everyday Chocolate Cake
Six years ago: Sour Cherry Slab Pie and Cantaloupe Salsa
Seven years ago: Garlic Mustard Glazed Skewers, Blueberry Pancakes and Huevos Rancheros
Eight years ago: Double Layer Chocolate Cake, Red Pepper Soup and Pearl Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes and Olives
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas and Chocolate Oat Crumble
1.5 Years Ago: Cheese Blintz and Garlicky Party Bread with Herbs and Cheese
2.5 Years Ago: Lasagna Bolognese and Double Coconut Muffins
3.5 Years Ago: Salted Caramel Brownies and Italian Stuffed Cabbage
Frozen Hot Chocolate
Riffed from original recipe
A lightly sweet and not overly intense milkshake, the summer iteration of a winter mug of hot cocoa. Still cold where you are? Make this Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix instead.
Makes 6 petite just-about-1-cup servings (shown above in an 8-ounce glass) or fewer more generous ones
3 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups cold milk, whole is ideal here
3 cups ice
1/2 cup cold heavy or whipping cream
Chocolate shavings, for garnish
Melt chocolate in a small/medium saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly and not letting it cook a moment beyond its melted point. Remove from heat. Stir in cocoa and 2 tablespoons sugar. Drizzle in 1/2 cup milk very slowly, whisking the whole time. If any chocolate firms up, return the saucepan to a low stove, warming and whisking the mixture until it melts again.
Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1 cup of cold milk, which should make the chocolate base cold. If not, let it chill in the freezer for a few minutes to hasten the cooling along.
Beat heavy cream with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar until soft peaks form. You can do this vigorously by hand or with an electric mixer.
In a blender, combine ice and chocolate-milk mixture until as smooth as a frozen cocktail. Pour into a glass — a goblet is traditional at the restaurant, but any glass you have will do — dollop with whipped cream and finish with shaved chocolate. Serve with a straw and a spoon.