Spiced Hot Chocolate

Depending on your mood or the whole spices lying around in your pantry, steeping these in milk before adding chocolate pieces and cocoa gives an extra sense of depth and complexity to this cozy, seasonal treat. I decided here to make a more adult version, which would be the perfect nightcap for a holiday or family party: dark rum and coffee liqueur. Toasting the spices for a few minutes extracts the natural oils and aromatics, which will further enhance this indulgent elixir. Makes 2 cups.
2Xwhole cinnamon sticks, broken in halves
4Xgreen cardamom pods, slightly crushed
4Xwhole cloves
1 ½CUPSmilk
TSPNnutmeg, freshly grated
½TBSPNvanilla extract
2TBSPNSunsweetened cocoa
2OZSdark chocolate chunks
1TBSPNgranulated sugar
2OZSdark rum
2OZScoffee liqueur

  1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the cinnamon sticks, green cardamom, and cloves. Toast for about 2 minutes, or until aromatic, then add the milk. Stir to combine.
  2. Grate in the fresh nutmeg and add the vanilla extract, then turn up the heat to medium. 
  3. Using a whisk, continue to stir until the milk begins to simmer.
  4. Once the milk mixture is at a gentle simmer, whisk in the cocoa, dark chocolate, sugar, and a pinch of sea salt. Turn the heat to medium-low, continuously whisking until the chocolate is melted and cocoa is incorporated, about 4 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your two mugs. Add equal parts of the dark rum and coffee liqueur into each mug, and set aside.
  6. Do not bring the milk mixture to a boil, but once all ingredients have been thoroughly whisked together, remove saucepan from the heat. 
  7. Set a mesh strainer over one of the mugs to collect the whole spices, and pour in half of the cocoa mixture. Repeat the same for the other mug. Garnish with marshmallows or whipped cream, and a little ground cinnamon. Serve immediately.

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