They arrived in the evening, TS Eliot says, not a moment too soon. There are many traditions for celebrating Epiphany across the world. Cakes feature in most of them, and lost beans in some. The lucky person who finds the bean in their cake is crowned king for the evening. Sadly, I have not had time for baking cakes of late. I did want to make sure I marked this feast though. So, I looked up the recipe for that hot drink which after a long cold, wet day on the Camino de Santiago, when my feet were sore and my bones were aching, and I thought I was mad for ever setting out, put the world gently back to rights.
Spiced Hot Chocolate (with or without nip)
Dark good quality chocolate broken into small pieces
Cardamom, or a cinnamon stick, or for the brave, dried chilli flakes
White chocolate or honey or sugar (sweetens)
Full fat milk
Double cream whipped (optional)
Gently heat the milk in a pan with your choice of spice (not all three, okay?), and when it is just hot enough to melt the chocolate (I test with my finger - when it burns it is done - I, clearly, am not a wiseman though), add the chocolate. The white chocolate is a sweetener used instead of sugar. If you use this use just a little, and taste, you can add more later if you like. Once the chocolate pieces are added whisk constantly and do not let boil. The chocolate will melt slowly and turn the milk to velvety goodness. In an Irish Coffee glass or large mug, add your nip of brandy if you are having it, and gently pour your chocolate on top. Finish with whipped double cream if you like.
This is a drink to restore exhausted people. It relaxes them to the point of sleepy bliss. The calories are intentional, so don't try and cut them out. This is all about feeling your aches and pains drift away as your body warms up, tucking into a blanket in front of a brightly burning fire and feeling all will be right with the world again soon. Take it slowly. Let it work its magic. Tomorrow you are going to have to get up and walk once again. :)