Oui & Ole’: Belgian and Mexican Chocolate

This week’s choice of chocolates is one of those brands that just offer fantastic selection, at great prices, yet is still the kind of stuff that one gives away to the most cherished of our friends! The Leonidas store on Madison Avenue in NYC has been in business since 1991 and enticing palates everywhere since then. Their chocolates are simple yet gourmet, easy yet flavorful and quite elegant. They go by the weight, unless buying their signature holiday lollipops which are $3.75 each and make great napkin holders for an elegant yet festive table. The chocolates run $32 per pound and trust me, a pound goes a long way with this rich, scrumptious, deeply cocoa-filled chocolate. Available in both dark and milk, with some white chocolate bon-bons thrown in for color, it is the perfect chocolate for the holidays, for giving as well as receiving. My tip, go and buy some to give and pick up a little clear plastic envelope filled with chocolates for yourself… My favorites are the dark chocolate covered candied orange peels. Click on Leonidas Online for more info.

I have been craving a hot chocolate these days almost daily. My suggestion, for something a bit more thick during the cold days of December, is the Mexican hot chocolate. Spiced with cinnamon and vanilla and sometimes including some almond meal for thickness, it is a true warming beverage. It can be easily ordered online from the Mexican Grocer or try to find it in your own local Hispanic market. Even Whole Foods carries it at times. But to make this drink truly spectacular you will need a frother. This device is a little battery operated wire mesh which beats the hot milk/chocolate mixture and creates a layer of deliciously decadent foam on top. Try it from Bodum, available at Target or pick up a cheap one from Surprise Surprise in NYC. Heat up your milk, lowfat is just perfect, with the amount of chocolate recommended on the box, and then, once the milk is very hot, but not boiling, and the chocolate block completely melted, beat the mixture with your frother, taking care not to splash it about. Serve in a tall mug and N-joy!

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