We now live in what is currently Manhattan’s tallest residential building.  We have killer views over the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, and we’re unlikely to lose that view because between us and the East river is relatively low-rise low cost housing.  The downside of this is that we’re very exposed to the wind.  I was woken up at about 5 this morning by the wind, whistling and creaking around the building.  I eventually decided to get out of bed, and couldn’t see the bridges!  It was snowing!  It’s stopped snowing now and it hasn’t lain so apart from some wet drops on the window it could have all been a dream.  Except it wasn’t.  Just before we moved here, New York City was visited by Hurricane Irene.  Two months later it snowed before Halloween, the first time this had happened since the American Civil War.  Last year, of course, we had Sandy, and today people are talking about the rarity of snow on 12th November.  Now it could just be that Dad and I have been spectacularly unlucky with the time period that we’ve been here, but I am tiring of hearing that weather has changed, and it isn’t normal.  Without wishing to upset those who don’t believe in global warming, perhaps there is an explanation and it’s staring us in the face?  It wouldn’t be the first time the earth has experienced such a phenomenon so maybe we need to be a bit more aware of what is happening around us?

Anyway, with weather like this I don’t think it’s surprising that my thoughts have turned to warming food.  Being of essentially Scots heritage, I am firmly of the belief that anything can be cured by a slug of whisky.  In 2000, Andrew and I went to see Scotland beat England at rugby at Murrayfield (19-13 since you ask).  The weather was horrendous and it was raining horizontally – a distinct advantage for the Scots.  As we walked back to the station, using our flags as protection, we began to feel the cold reaching our bones.  Once we reached the relative warmth of Waverley, we bought a bottle of whisky and two hot chocolates, supped enough hot chocolate to make room for whisky and aaaaaah…..   toes, fingers, noses and bones were almost immediately warmed up again.  We drank at least another one each, and then drank a great deal more of the whisky on the train home, sharing it with sad England supporters.

Grandma used to make cocoa for us.  This involved mixing cocoa powder with sugar and a wee bit of cold milk to make a paste.  Add the paste to a pan of milk and stir while bringing to the boil.  What a fecht this seemed when Cadbury’s brought out its Hot Chocolate – add hot milk to powder and there you go!  Even easier when all you had to do was add boiled water.  As with many things, there has been a return in recent times to real hot chocolate, where grated chocolate is added to warming milk and stirred.  The taste outweighs any stirring effort.  Earlier this year in France, there was a chocolate shop which sold lumps of chocolate on sticks which you stirred into hot milk.  There were many different flavours and every one that I tasted was yummy.  In Whistler the year before Baileys was added to hot chocolate.  Although there was a warmth because of the alcohol, the actual flavour of the Baileys was lost in the mix.  Purely for research purposes, Daisy and I tried several just to make sure!  So here for anyone who is tired of comments about changing weather and simply wants to embrace the fun side of winter is my recipe for Hot Chocolate with Whisky.

Hot Chocolate with Whisky

(Serves one)

Measure one cup of milk.  This isn’t the Imperial or Metric cup measure, but the cup that you are going to drink from.  Should probably hold about 200 ml / 8 fl oz at least.  It doesn’t really matter which fat content of milk you use but I prefer full fat or semi-skimmed.  I have never made it with anything other than cow’s milk.  Put the milk in a small sauce pan.  Grate 50 g / 2 oz of chocolate into the milk.  I like dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) – I have never used anything else when making it myself.  One of my favourites is Dark Chocolate with Chilli – it makes a superb hot chocolate.  Some of the ones we tried in France were milk chocolate or even white chocolate but they had a tendency to have fat globules on top which isn’t pretty!  Stir as you bring to the boil.   Pour into cup/mug and add a slug of whisky.  I do not add whipped cream because I like to taste the hot chocolate – feel free to disagree.  You can sprinkle powdered cinnamon on top.  Sit down.  Drink.  Repeat.  Sigh.  Feel all is well with the world.


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