Rich Hot Chocolate
Food + Drink

Homemade Hot Chocolate and Marshmallows

Orchids at Palm Court pastry chef Megan Ketover shares how to go (way) beyond the packet of Swiss Miss.

When bold, dark chocolate melts into vanilla bean-steeped milk and cream, the result isn’t just hot cocoa — it’s dessert. Poured into a mug and topped with homemade marshmallows, it’s a decadent departure from the familiar powdered versions of the drink but nearly as easy to mix up.

Megan Ketover, pastry chef at Cincinnati’s Orchids at Palm Court, knows good hot cocoa relies on high-caliber ingredients. “You want to start with really good quality chocolate,” she says. “I’m super picky.”

Once you’ve selected your chocolate — Ketover favors the Caraibe Noir bar by Valrhona — it’s as simple as melting chocolate into hot milk. Even the from-scratch marshmallows that she tops the brew with can be made at home, and Ketover says they’re a great place to add your own personal touch to the drink.

“[You] could stuff them with chunks of candied ginger or add in some cocoa nibs … kind of like a chocolate chip marshmallow.”

Rich Hot Chocolate

1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
6 ounces chocolate, chopped

Bring the milk and cream to a boil. Reduce heat, add vanilla bean and simmer. After 10 minutes, remove the vanilla bean and return to a boil. Once boiling, add the chopped chocolate and whisk to combine. Serves 2

Honey & White Chocolate Cocoa Nib Marshmallows

7 ounces corn syrup
3 tablespoons powdered gelatin
3/4 cup cold water
5 ounces honey
16 ounces sugar
2 ounces water
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
8 ounces white chocolate,
chopped and melted
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Heat the corn syrup in a microwave until warm to touch. In a separate bowl, bloom gelatin with the cold water. Once set, add gelatin to the corn syrup until dissolved.

In a sauce pot, combine the honey, sugar, water and lemon juice. Stir until just dissolved. Bring to a boil, then cook to 243 F (using a candy thermometer).

Pour dissolved gelatin into a mixing bowl. With a hand or stand mixer on low, slowly add the hot sugar syrup to the gelatin. Turn mixer to high, and whip mixture until light, fluffy and room temperature — about 15 to 20 minutes.

Using a spoon, fold in the white chocolate and cocoa nibs. Press mixture into a greased 13-by-9-inch pan lined with greased parchment paper. Allow to cool overnight. Cut with scissors or a paring knife into desired size and dust marshmallows with powdered sugar. Yield: Makes about 40 marshmallows. The recipe can be halved, but should not be made in any smaller quantity.