Sticking with cookbooks and not necessarily alcoholic drinks todays recommendations are for Sue Quinn’s ‘Cocoa’ and Cupsmith hot chocolate. I’ve got a few other books about chocolate and confectionery, all of which are excellent but ‘Cocoa’ is something more.
What I like so much about this one (which I notice is published by Quadrille and is adding to my conviction that they've totally nailed it this year) is the discussion about what chocolate is, how it’s made, how to taste it, buy it, store it, and more, along with the range of recipes. It’s a beautiful, and ultimately really inspiring book. It’s also made cocoa nibs a stable store cupboard ingredient (I’ve put them in some of the mincemeat I’ve made this year, and am really excited to see how that’s worked out).
The recipes aren’t all sweet by a long way - there’s a lot of savoury stuff here that uses nibs (which have the most incredible smell) to add an extra something. The sweet Dukkah recipe alone is worth buying the book for - it’s amazingly versatile and totally addictive. There’s also a handful of fabulous hot chocolate recipes - the Medici inspired jasmine tea infused hot chocolate has become a particular favourite.
Leafing through the book now I’m also tempted to make a Cocoa - Infused Tipple. Vodka, tequila, bourbon, whisky, and rum are all suggested as possible base spirits - I’d be most inclined to use rum or vodka.
You want 500mls of spirit, 50g of Cocoa nibs, 2 tbsp of lightly crushed coffee beans, and a vanilla pod. Pour the booze into a stoppered bottle, add everything else, and leave to infuse for a couple of weeks shaking often. Then strain through a coffee filter or similar before returning it to the bottle. Keep in the fridge and use within 3 months.
Over the years I’ve tried a few posh hot chocolate brands, but so far Cupsmith has been my favourite. It’s not cheap, but it makes an excellent hot chocolate. I’ve been buying either the plain or the salted caramel versions from Waitrose and before today had never looked at their website. Turns out there are other exciting flavours available (I want to try all of them). I like this so much because it’s the one that seems to mix best, and most quickly, with milk. At +£5 a pack it’s a luxury, and definitely in welcome present territory, but on cold, wet, grey days like today a little luxury is welcome.