Heavenly Hot Chocolate

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This past week could be called pretty mellow, if you classify making curtains as mellow. I, however, do not. It’s not easy when you have windows that are bigger than the table you’re cutting the fabric on, which means that more often than not sister curtains turn out to be different lengths. Other than curtain-making and wanting to tear my own hair out, I’ve been doing some necessary exploring around our area. I’ve memorized the route to Whole Foods, CrossFit, and UCLA. I have also made friends with a tailor, who was extremely impressed by my seamstress skills (shout out to Ribbon Street!). The week truly flew by in a sweaty, map-filled, fabric-covered haze.

I also managed to make my first solo batch of sourdough bread, which was extremely exciting for me. However, I’ve been waging a war against the ants living outside our place, which means that I couldn’t open the kitchen window to let in air. Thus, the kitchen became the new sauna. I did find out that the heat here is not just ideal for the creation of multitudes of sweat droplets but also for the rising of bread. So, if you like both, LA is the place for you.

Jonji commenced his first week of school, or rather, orientation, with the UCLA White Coat Ceremony on Friday. Several members of his family made the trek to LA to watch him walk across the stage and have his white coat placed upon him. When I first heard about the ceremony, I thought it a bit strange to have a graduation-type event before school even starts. But seeing him robed in that coat, with that huge Jonji smile on his face, made me more excited for the future than anything so far. Which, I’m sure, is what the event is all about.

The highlight of the weekend for me was that Friday night after the ceremony, when we went to a place called Neveux Artisan Creamery. The ice cream there tastes just like the rich, homemade stuff that my mom and I make—creamy and thick, with a slight chew that means there is no shortage of egg yolks or heavy cream. I got creme fraiche and maple fig, both of which were absolutely incredible. If you’re ever in West Hollywood, or even within 50 miles of it, a trip to Neveux is worth your time.

We went to the Museum of Jurassic Technology the next day, which is not, in fact, about dinosaurs using cell phones. Basically it was a history of old ideas and technology—stuff like old medical “cures” and miniature models of spaceships. One of my favorite sections was a series of art pieces made out of tiny bits of butterfly wings, which you could only see under a microscope. If that doesn’t interest you, at least go for the upstairs tea room and rooftop garden in which doves keep you company.

We also went to Venice Beach, which is not the best experience on a hot Saturday afternoon. If you can even find parking, you’ll just be seeing lots of half-dressed people and smell a combination of fried food and pee. On the bright side, we got to see a cool street show involving a guy who did a front flip over six people.

On Sunday we said goodbye to most of Jonji’s family. The ones that remained joined us in visiting Neveux again (it’s irresistible, really). This morning, Monday, Jonji and I got up for the 6 AM class and felt the full repercussions of four days out of the gym plus three days of dessert. It was worth every bite, if you ask me!

Certain occasions warrant the consumption of special treats. There’s a satisfaction in commencing a celebration with a little indulgence, which is probably why holidays are so well-known for their desserts (who can celebrate Thanksgiving without pie?). The treat that I’m about to discuss is definitely a special one that is best served in the fall and winter months, but sometimes must be made at other times because it’s just too good. I will advise, however, that you limit yourself to one mug full—I have gotten a stomachache more than once after I’ve sneaked seconds, and it’s definitely less enjoyable that way.

This hot chocolate is better than any I’ve ever had. It’s so good that I can’t drink any other kind, because there’s no way another will live up to the excellence I now expect. It’s important to use high-quality ingredients for this recipe, as there are so few and, after all, it is a special treat. My mom found a version of this recipe in Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Supper at Lucques, which is really what cemented my faith in Suzanne’s recipes. If she can offer something like this, then she knows what goodness tastes like.

Heavenly Hot Chocolate

serves 3–4 • adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanna Goin

3.5 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I love to use Callebaut or, if you can get some, Valhrona)
15g (2 tbsp) cocoa powder, unsweetened
240ml + 35ml (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) whole milk
230ml (1 cup) heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp fine sea salt

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. Whisk 55g (¼ cup) hot water in with the chocolate. Turn off heat once all chocolate chunks are melted.

Sift cocoa powder into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in 35ml (2 tbsp) whole milk until a paste forms. Whisk in the other 240ml milk, 230ml heavy cream, 2 tsp vanilla, and ¼ tsp salt. Whisk this mixture into the melted chocolate and transfer all of it into a medium saucepan or small pot. Whisking often, bring to a boil over low heat.

Turn off the heat and serve immediately, topped with freshly whipped cream. Enjoy!

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