Tuesday, May 4, 2010

lavender honey dark chocolate

I have to admit that when the going gets tough, I reach for chocolate.

To my disappointment, I was out of my usual chocolate bar and was unable to go to the store to get another one. Usually when I am towards the end of one chocolate bar, there's an extra one in my kitchen somewhere... or even in my purse. I think a square or two of chocolate a day is perfectly reasonable, and it's such a treat after lunch or dinner. But there was none to be had.

So I went into my kitchen to look for chocolate, and then I found chocolate tableas from the Philippines that my mother sent me last year (these things last a pretty long time, kept in a cool dark place).

These chocolate tableas are deep, rich, and best of all, heartwarming. It's the kind that takes me back home, to childhood memories of my mother making this hot chocolate for the holidays. She would make it in a HUGE pot, enough to feed our big family and more -- for the guests, both expected and unexpected, but welcomed all the same. The scents would fill the kitchen and waft into the living room as we waited in anticipation for the chocolate to be ready. Memories of my family gathering around a candlelit table, each with a cup of hot chocolate (and some sweet, buttery, brioche-style rolls we call ensaimada, for dunking).

So making this chocolate here, is like a taste of home in a cup. At 11 pm, I decided to make some. The enjoyment is in the process of making it, as much as it is in savoring it. I think part of it has to do with the "slow-food" feel of preparing it. No microwaving here.

Sometimes I make it in the more traditional way, the way my mom makes it. Just the chocolate, melting in a pot with some water, until it's simmering. Make sure you stir fairly constantly, so the chocolate melts evenly and no chocolate get scorched in the bottom of the pan, which would be a tragedy in my world. A little milk --  or a lot, depending on how dark or how milky you want it (I prefer the former). And turbinado sugar, depending on whether the tableas are sweetened or unsweetened.

Or sometimes I make it with a little twist - in the winter I might make it Mexican style with a little cinnamon and cayenne. But this spring, I wanted the flavors of lavender and honey.

I had this bottle of lavender honey which I bought in a cozy local store in Asheville last spring. I'm quite proud that I've been able to ration it. One year later, and I still haven't consumed the entire bottle. I have about a quarter of it left, and I wish I had gotten two bottles.

Lavender honey. There's just nothing like it. The subtle flowery lavender notes in sweet, fragrant honey. It's nature's magic.

So I melted 6 chocolate tableas (might as well make enough to last the week, right?) in a little water, in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan (or you could use a double boiler) over low heat. Once all the chocolate was melted and the mixture was simmering, I added some plain almond milk, about a cup or so. I let it cook until it was heated through, then added a few tablespoonfuls of this lavender honey.

I enjoyed it in a little cup, letting the heat of the cup warm my palms as I placed my hands around it. And believe me, this is rich, and a little teacup's worth of hot chocolate is probably enough. No supersized mugs here. It's something that's meant to be sipped and enjoyed slowly.

Hot chocolate from the Philippines, 
with lavender honey from North Carolina, 
served in a Turkish cup and saucer
enjoyed in Northern Ohio,
thinking of family and memories from half a world away. :)

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Sharon Tessandori said...

I love this post Mia. I savored reading it and was a little sad when it ended. Much like you and the hot chocolate I imagine. ;)
Love to you....

Mia said...

It's funny, doing this (the hot chocolate) is almost like a ritual to me, really... it does feel bittersweet, come to think of it. Argh, being away from home is so difficult this time of year!

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