Malted White Hot Chocolate

Dear readers, let me introduce you to something very, very special. The creamiest, dreamiest way to enjoy the holiday season. The thing that just might make me forget about my favorite sparkly sugar cookies, adorable gingerbread men, and those ubiquitous chocolate-covered cherries with the oddly delicious oozy, boozy centers.

Meet Malted White Hot Chocolate. Or in other words, my Winter Kryptonite.

I first started thinking about this heavenly combination of flavors during a totally amazing experience at Mindy's Hot Chocolate in Chicago, during my "How did I get here?" adventure with the Sears Chef Challenge last month. Mindy's offers the most mind-blowing pastry and sweet drink menu, I just...I just don't have the adjectives, people. But I will say that I had two enormous servings of Mindy's "light" hot chocolate in as many days, and haven't been able to get it off my mind ever since. Hooooo, boy. It was malted magic, let me tell you.

The only drawback to Mindy's light hot chocolate, if you can even call it that, was that it was so thick, so rich, so reminiscent of an entire pint of hot, melted, Haagen-Dazs, that there was no need for breakfast on either of the mornings after having the drink the night before. I decided I needed to translate the recipe for real life, which is to say to make it possible to savor the insanely delicious marriage of malt and white chocolate all winter long without having to buy new pants. So I set out to lighten the formula up a bit while still maintaining its ability to have one's eyes roll back in one's head upon tasting.

The answer here is a blend of milk and half-and-half, instead of what I suspect was nearly all heavy cream in the original. Of course you can make this formula richer by swapping in some cream and adding a couple more ounces of white chocolate. But for me, this recipe is a real winner just the way it is. And if you're feeling extra fancy, some freshly grated nutmeg and some homemade marshmallows can take it to an even more glorious level. If you need me at all for the rest of the winter, you can find me right here with a cup of this malted nectar of life, watching Oprah or Ina, silently hoping that Little C's naptime goes juuuust a little longer.

Malted White Hot Chocolate

Make this drink even richer by swapping in some cream, adding a bit more malt powder, or a couple more ounces of white chocolate. But I' d avoid going lower fat than this combination of whole milk and half-and-half, because the result will be rather watery, and really, what's the point?

You can use white chocolate in bar form or chips, but I prefer bar chocolate for this, because it really turns out noticably silkier. Top with a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg and serve with marshmallows and you're set.

Serves 4

2 cups whole milk
2 cups half-and-half
6 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped (see note)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract)
Generous pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup malted milk powder (such as Carnation)

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the milk, half-and-half, white chocolate, vanilla bean paste (or extract) and salt. Whisk gently until the mixture is just below the bubbling point and the white chocolate is completely melted. Do not boil. When the mixture is hot, whisk in the malted milk powder until completely dissolved. Serve hot.

MiscellaneousShauna Sever