Saturday, July 15, 2006

Chocolat Chaud

I drink hot chocolate every day of the year without exception. I even take my own brew when visiting friends just to be safe. It's my coffee, my cup of tea, my hot lemon juice in the morning. When I stayed at M.'s pied-à-terre this May there was no stove. Just an electric teapot.
These African copper pots are in the window of L'Etoile d'Or Denise Acabo's shop in the 9th. I tried sneaking a packet of drinking chocolate into the local Café Vavin, and ordering lait chaud (hot milk). What a mess and embarrassing too :( It's hard enough not to make a complete fool of yourself in France without asking for more trouble. Here's my secret -- in desperation I heated up my milk every morning in the electric tea pot
When you're obsessed with hot chocolate, you constantly test new brands and concoctions. All accessories are of interest. In my search I'd spot a real chocolate pot (une chocolatière) but always the price was très cher.
I began to toy with the idea, but 160 euros+ was too steep even for the obsessed. Drinking chocolate in France started in 1615 when Anne of Austria, Louis XIII's queen, introduced la "boisson des Aztèques" to the French elite.
Early one morning after my swim, the chocolate pot of my dreams called me. La Vaissellerie was closed but I rushed back at opening time. Yup, it was a chocolatière, minus some working parts. And le prix was 1/4 of the others. Early pots were made out of coin silver and later porcelain became more practical. Madam de Pompadour ordered the 1st porcelain chocolate service from the Sevres factory.Traditionally la chocolatière has a rounded paunchy base with a horizontal wooden handle. The lid should have a hole where the wooden beater (le moulinet ou moussoir) fits snuggly so you can rotate it quickly between the palms of your hands. Mine is missing this bit. It's a faux choco pot...still it's mine to have and to paint.
My California friends Ann and Larry Walker, found this wonderful pot with all it's parts it a small town, Maury, near Les Pyrénées, where they have a summer house. Try making your hot chocolate the night before. Let it brew in the fridge for 6 hours, then reheat it. I tried it once or twice but you have to be a plan-ahead sort of person which I'm not...


  1. Anonymous8:16 AM

    beautiful watercolour paintings. Really gorgorous vivid colours, damn hard to do.

  2. Anonymous11:08 AM

    THANKS Robotjam..not so hard to get intense watercolors when you make yr own paints + a lot of years color doodling helps too :)

  3. Anonymous3:06 PM

    Actually we found the choco pot in Tour de France at a brocante place. Very small - really just the front room of someone's home. He said it was from the 1940s. Yes, we've made much delicious chocolate using it. It froths well!!! Annie & Larry

  4. Anonymous5:27 PM

    Never thought of being obsessed with hot chocolate, though, on reflection, why on earth not??? Your chocolat chaud escapades had me smiling mightily ;D.
    No kitchen? That's a pied a terre appartement for one foot!

  5. Anonymous6:36 PM

    Hot chocolate. *sigh* it's lovely and tasty and you drink it every day? I want to as well. Do you have a favorite recipe or brand that you use?

  6. HI Sunny - So glad you asked. Yes I'm religious about my hot chocolate- I never let a day go by.
    My recipe has evolved. I used to be faithful to 1 brand starting with the French NesquiK, to Chocolat Poulain, another supermarket French brand, and moving on and up to Fauchon, Confisier, Monbana etc. Ultimately I've come round to making a concoction of pure cocoa 1-2 teaspoon + 2 heaping teaspoons of chocolate drinking powder + 1-2 squares of Dark chocolate-Lindt 70% or now Chocovic's Ocumare or whatever is around. I heat jug of 200ml of milk in the micro for 2 minutes and pour a bit into the brew & stir. When the emulsion is blended I add the rest et voilà
    What's nice is you can vary all the brands, proportions, the bars. The pure cocoa cuts the excess sweetness of the drinking powder. Real Paris chocolat chaud is made with just shredded bars. But this comes close & at the end you have a nice sludge of melted choco in the bottom of your cup :)

    Laura - it was just a 1-room studio (did I mention the bathroom was in the hall, I had the sole key) but those Paris high ceilings add a lot of breathing space. Give me just a closet there-I'll take it tout suite

  7. Anonymous7:39 AM

    HOT CHOCOLATE every day! Wow. As I drink my coffee thinking "crazy!" (same temp....). Hmmmmmmmmm

  8. Thank you for the history of the chocolatière, I really want to get one now! They're very decorative as well as functional with just the right dose of decadence.

    -Did you get to see my pics of Sitges?

  9. My local TJMaxx had a beautiful chocolatière for $29.99 - if they would have had two, I would have bought them both.

  10. Run Around Paris!
    Lucky you! I had no idea that TJ MAXX would come up with a chocolatière. I wish I could see what it looks it china?

  11. Hi :) I just found your blog and I'm delighted!!! Thank you for sharing so much good chocolate!!!

  12. Just a little sugestion (not in Paris) hope you enjoy it!

  13. I love la vaisellerie, will have to check out their chocolaterie offerings!

  14. ach, mein gott, the heat is making my brain mushy. chocolatIERE offerings.

  15. Yup Maitress,
    I got all my best still life items at la vaisellerie..the chocolatiere was in their rue Raspail window..I think our heat wave drifted over to you..désolé
    but a thunder storm is coming bientoo, je promis!

    Thanks for the shout out for Spain seems to be a terrific source for wonderful chocolate...hmmm...Paris look out. I like you site too

  16. Anonymous7:39 AM

    in the realm of chocolat i wonder if you are also enamored
    with chocolat chaud as at angelina or even better in italia
    especially at rivoire in firenze and florian in venezia

    in italy you can buy a packaged version in one of
    those cartons that doesn't require refrigeration
    which is okay but not at all like having the real thing
    poured thick hot and in the proper setting
    which is so supremely satisfying as to
    defy description

  17. all those pots are so gorgeous! i want one.


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