Put a little love in your mug

Hot chocolate gurus put a new spin on the old classic

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 14, 2016

 Bon Bon Bon, in Hamtramck, has created a line of chocolate flavors especially for the holiday season.

Bon Bon Bon, in Hamtramck, has created a line of chocolate flavors especially for the holiday season.

Photo provided by Lauren Kramer, of FIKA House PR


METRO DETROIT — Something warm, rich and sweet certainly sounds tantalizing, doesn’t it?

And no, we’re not talking about your date to the office holiday party. 

Hot chocolate is a cold-weather favorite for families around the world. And for every cup of sugary joy poured, there’s a different secret for creating the chocolatey treat.

In Clawson, Kahve House owner Ana Bureau has been brewing up holiday favorites like peppermint mocha lattes for weeks now.

But Bureau said one of the house specialties came from a recipe she grew up sipping in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“Our Mexican hot chocolate is one of the things we’re known for, I’d say. I knew when we opened two years ago that was one of the things I wanted to put on the menu,” said Bureau.

What makes Mexican hot chocolate, well, Mexican? Make the cocoa a little darker and add a dash of cinnamon — skip the pepper, since that’s a common misconception of Mexican hot chocolate. The combo is mixed in with steamed milk — and it has to be milk, not water, Bureau insists — creating a foamy drink that’s decadent enough to drink on its own.

“I don’t use marshmallows or whipped cream. It really doesn’t need it,” she said. “But I do like to have a pastry on the side to dip. My kids would have that every morning for breakfast, if I let them.”

For chocolatier Alexandra Clark, hot chocolate is all about the main ingredient. At her Hamtramck shop, Bon Bon Bon, she doesn’t serve up the drink for customers. But she knows a thing or two about what makes for a good cuppa.

“Everyone’s taste is different when it comes to chocolate. That’s one place where people are allowed to disagree and it’s OK. For me, if it’s dark chocolate for instance, I’m looking for something that’s pretty fruity but not really astringent, with a nutty undertone,” Clark said.

For hot chocolate, she goes a different route and turns to alkalized cocoa powder, also known as Dutch-processed chocolate.

“Most people can pick out that flavor as what Oreos taste like,” Clark explained. “It really was the best hot chocolate I’ve ever made for myself, with a unique taste that gets really dark, almost like an Oreo cookie. The color and the flavor are just dramatic.”

And Clark is a specialist at creating chocolates with distinct flavors. For the holidays, she’s featuring a sweet potato casserole “bon” with a buttery bottom, candied sweet potato and bruleed marshmallow top.

It’s all in a day’s work for Clark, who prides herself on being the community chocolatier who makes consistently good treats — since bon is French for good, after all. 

“I love the interaction you have with someone buying something sweet. It’s like you’re both being a little naughty,” she said.

‘Dutched’ Hot Chocolate

— Courtesy of Alexandra Clark, Bon Bon Bon

• 1/3 cup melted alkalized dark chocolate; between 75 and 90 percent
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 cup whole milk
• Pinch of salt, to taste

• Heat heavy cream in a saucepan until scalded.
• Pour heavy cream over the melted chocolate, let sit one minute, then stir starting at the inside and working your way outward.
• Heat whole milk until scalded, then pour in a thin stream into the cream and chocolate mixture. Stir until mixed thoroughly and add salt to taste.