Hot chocolate virgin…

petit_dejeuner_03mar_1555This country drips chocolate from every pore. In provincial France,  good chocolatiers are nearly as ubiquitous as shoe shops, which only sell grotesque shoes, opticians and dodgy hair dressers upon which trio the French economy appears to depend. The illusion of French chic is hidden so deep in our neck of the woods, as to be invisible. Les Francaises Vendeenes, suitably attired in orthopaedic shoes, rimless glasses and a red highlight in the hair, suggesting an affiliation with the Coldstream Guards, can be found at any point of the day sipping intensely strong chocolat chaud in one of the many cafés that make up, in some small way, for the previously mentioned shops. Some time ago, in La Rochelle, I experienced a chocolat chaud hit. It was in an elegant salon de thé and the intensity of the chocolate was such that it could not be drunk without regular sips of cold water. Much as I admired the purity and power of the drink, it never became something that I would regularly order – it was just too committed: too, too chocolatey. However, I have always enjoyed chocolate brownies and, in order that we should never suffer a shortage, I make a batch each week. One of the ingredients in the recipe that I favour is cocoa powder. This powder comes in a box that has attracted me with its looks for time immemorial ( in my case, that’s last week) by its very Frenchness. It could contain tripe and onion flavoured boiled sweets and I would still buy the box. Luckily it contains very good cocoa powder. It only dawned on me today that this would be the essential ingredient of a good cup of hot chocolate, which realisation was confirmed by the illustration on the side of the box, that I had not previously noticed,  of a steaming hot cup of that very confection. I used to read cereal packets as a child but when I became a man, I put away childish things, and stopped reading boxes. More’s the pity. I shall stock my library with grocery boxes in the hope of improving my knowledge of food – the books are clearly of no use. Watched by Gypsy, one of two visiting poodles, I enjoyed a very good breakfast of hot chocolate, toast and butter with apricot conserve and oodles of sunshine.gypsy_03mar_1573_adj

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2013, Apricot jam, Art photography, baking, Baking, Brownies, Digital photography, Dogs, Expectation, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Hot choclate, Humour, Poodles, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Hot chocolate virgin…

  1. Tandy says:

    That’s how I like my hot chocolate. Made from cocoa and with a pinch of cinnamon. However, in my books nothing can be too chocolately 🙂

  2. Fantastique! I don’t drink hot chocolate that often, you know what they say…a minute in your lips, forever in your hips… 😉 but I do love brownie…screw the hips!

  3. Mad Dog says:

    I’m not really a hot chocolate drinker, but it is quite good with a sprinkle of crushed chilli when it’s cold out. I seem to remember making some good home made brownies in Barcelona 20 years ago, but they contained chocolate and chocolaté rather than cocoa powder and I believe it’s something else completely – they certainly made us very popular in the Kentucky Bar 😉
    I hope you don’t have to look after those poodles again…

  4. Nice toast and sunshine.

  5. ambrosiana says:

    Your post made me want to have a chocolate gelato…..jajaja! ..not quite hot chocolate but something with chocolate!

  6. There is nothing, nothing, quite like hot chocolate when taking a break from skiing. To come into a slopeside café, dripping melting snow and with face aglow from the cold, and sit down to a steaming hot chocolate is bliss. Of course, slopeside cafés serve pretty crappy chocolate, but somehow I am willing to forgive if it is hot. One can always add a shot of peppermint schnapps if the chocolate is really bad.

  7. I do think that hot chocolate is definitely a cold weather drink. I try working on my recipe but don’t really think I have perfected it. I know high quality chocolate powder must be the prime ingredient. I have tried adding vanilla, cinnamon , salt – still have not quite got the perfect one. Thankfully I can pass a tray of brownies without any problem, now that toast & butter? and preserve in the photo, that is another story.
    It has got to be time for my afternoon tea soon!

  8. My favorite version of hot chocolate is the Spanish one, rather like hot chocolate pudding. With churros. Not to blaspheme the French versions. I never met a European version of hot chocolate I did not like.

    We once visited New York City with an article of the nine best hot chocolates in Manhattan. We got up early one morning and spent a cold February day walking to seven of the nine shops and sampling each version of hot chocolate. It was a divine day.

  9. Melting here. Gypsy is almost irresistible. And now I’m off downstairs to make a chocolat….

  10. Your post makes me miss all my favourite French chocolatiers backs at home..! And I love all the photos in this post – beautiful!

  11. Eha says:

    Mmh: Roger, are you abnsolutely certain you do not have local ‘spies’ reading your blog . . .? Of course, for me, you lost me to your admirable prose the moment I saw Gypsy’s photo – who wants the two-leggeds when one has SO much charm . . . ?

  12. cecilia says:

    mmmmm mmm hot chocolate.. i have been thinking of you lately because we have nearly run out of firewood and i have been eyeing up the chopping block and knowing you your woodshed is probably looking a bit like mine.. emptyish.. time to sit down with a cup of hot chocolate to have a wee bit of a think.. c

    • Synchronicity – my work to day is cutting some of the remaining wood. If we’re careful, and a warm spring comes early, I think I have enough for another month. Otherwise, I have to think of something to sell if we want more wood.The trouble is that wood fire is so seductive and I light it too early:)

  13. ChgoJohn says:

    Having read your wonderful post and all of the accompanying comments, I’ve just returned from the kitchen with a hot chocolate in hand, thankful that you hadn’t written a post mentioning duck confit.

  14. I wanted to see the box! Not a chocolatey person but every so often I crave it and the one you mention sounds amazing. that is a very up market looking poodle. Gypsy would be horrifed to see my two dust and paint covered mutts!

  15. spree says:

    What a way to begin a day Roger! — sun streaming in your windows, a cup of hot chocolate, a piece of toast from a loaf of good French bread, schmeared with apricot jam, and those two {adoring?} eyes looking up at you.

  16. Pingback: Singapore’s Finest Chocolate and Sweets |

  17. Oh, what fond memories I have of reading cereal boxes and longing for secret decoder rings.. and cutting a hole in the box before its contents were fully finished. Your photo of the hot chocolate is tantalizingly in soft focus.. and the absence of a box photo has left me demoralized. Pray, post those photos for those of us sans boxes. I always judge a box by its cover.

  18. Karen says:

    I like a hot chocolate occasionally but when bought in a cafe, I have to agree with you that they are usually too chocolatey. I think I would be very happy with a piece of your toast.

  19. discovervin says:

    Love the line about the orthotics, glasses and hair! I know the post was about hot chocolate, but I was laughing from the start. Great description of Vendee style. You forgot to mention the not so attractive frock shops!

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