Greek Drinking Chocolate

February 05, 2011
By Holly Jennings

Greeks love honey, and are famous for the variety and quality their bees produce, chief among being wild thyme honey. I’m intrigued with honeys that capture the flavor of specific regional herbs, flowers or trees, and, though I’ve never tried thyme honey, I like to imagine how it might taste. With this special Greek honey in mind, this drinking chocolate is sweetened with honey and infused with the flavor of fresh thyme and orange zest—the latter, a common ingredient in Greek pastries, cakes, biscuits, and breads. While I’m not sure how Greek this drinking chocolate tastes, it does taste good. I enjoyed it with Olive Oil Biscuits with Cumin and Sesame, a common breakfast food in Greece, from the DCCC pick The Food and Wine of Greece.* (For lots more information on the basics of making and serving drinking chocolate, read My Favorite Drinking Chocolate.)

Makes four 6-ounce servings

4 cups whole milk
1 heaping tablespoon grated orange zest (from about 1large orange)
4 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons Dutch-processed (alkalinized) cocoa powder
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (52 to 55% cacao), chopped (see note)
2 tablespoons honey
Small pinch of sea salt

  1. Combine the milk, orange zest and thyme in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. (If your saucepan has a thin bottom, heat the milk over medium-low heat.) Immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If you think you may have scorched the milk, do not scrape the bottom of the pan when stirring.) Strain the milk and discard the zest and thyme. The milk will have reduced by about 1 cup.
  2. Place the cocoa powder in a small, heavy saucepan. While stirring vigorously, over medium-low heat, gradually add ¼ cup of the heated milk, a tablespoon at a time. Continue stirring until all lumps of cocoa are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add the chocolate and reduce the heat to low. Gradually add another ¼ cup of the milk, while stirring. Heat until the chocolate is melted, stirring often. Add the remaining milk in a steady stream, while stirring. Bring to the gentlest simmer. Add the honey and salt. Stir until the honey is dissolved and serve.

 Note: Better quality chocolate with higher amounts of cacao solids tends to be available in block form, necessitating chopping. To make sure the chocolate melts at an even rate, chop the block into small, similar-size pieces. I like chopping chocolate; however, if you can find what you want in pistoles or chips, this will eliminate a step.

*Though the English recipe title for these delicious biscuits in The Food and Wine of Greece is “Olive Oil Biscuits with Cumin and Sesame,” no sesame seeds are included in the recipe. Finding this confusing, I wrote to Diane Kochilas, the author of The Food and Wine of Greece, about the use of sesame seeds. She said they are optional, and if used, would be sprinkled on the outside of the biscuit after the egg wash is applied.

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