Thursday, March 11, 2010


Hi All!

I absolutely loved the chapter on Lillian and her mother. How is your reading coming along? Do you have a favorite character yet? In the spirit of Lillian's chapter and her relationship with her mother I thought I would include the recipe for the hot chocolate that brought Lillian's mother out of books. Below is Erica Bauermeister's thoughts on hot chocolate and her process in finding the perfect hot chocolate:

We’re moving deeply into winter, Thanksgiving handing the holiday baton over to the festivities of December. Kitchens are filled with the smells of rosemary and turkey, pumpkin and cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. And hot chocolate, the way that luxurious smell comes floating up to your nose, the first sensation of whipped cream meeting your lips as you sip your way to the molten chocolate underneath.

It’s magic, really, which makes it only natural that Lillian used hot chocolate to tempt her mother back into the real world in The School of Essential Ingredients. But I realized pretty quickly when I was writing Lillian’s story that it couldn’t be just any hot chocolate. It had to be a version that would remind you of the hot chocolate you drank after playing all day in the snow, yet would also be full of the sensuality that only comes with adulthood. A recipe that would remind Lillian’s mother of the world she had given up.

As I was writing Lillian’s story I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, playing with ingredients. I loved the idea of adding orange and cinnamon, the combination of summer and autumn they create. Coffee and chocolate played off each other in an equally satisfactory way. But something was missing, and I couldn’t think of what it would be.

I went to the Mexican grocery store in the Pike Place market in Seattle and I asked the woman there for something special. She humored me, suggesting cinnamon, and sent me on my way. But as I was going up to the counter with a red and yellow box of Mexican chocolate in my hands, she came around the end of the aisle, a small bag in her hands.

“Perhaps a bit of anise,” she said.

It’s in there, with the proviso that a little bit of anise goes a very long way….

Hot chocolate and coffee

1 cup milk
5 curls orange rind
1/2 stick cinnamon
4 T Mexican chocolate
1 cup coffee
whipping cream

Put milk, orange rind, cinnamon and chocolate in a saucepan and warm through. Add a touch of anise. Add to coffee and top with whipping cream.

I had no idea what Anise was upon reading this recipe so I looked it up! Anise is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. It is known for it flavor, which resembles liquorice, fennel, and tarragon.

Just a friendly reminder that our next meeting is April 1st at 6pm and don't forgot Erica Bauermeister will be there!

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