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Everything's Better with Chocolate--A Q&A with Katherine-Anne Confections

If you’ve got issues with Valentine’s Day, we don’t blame you. It's hard to get in a romantic mood when you're digging your car out of a snow cocoon every morning.

Still, we can’t help seeing the entire month of February through rose-colored glasses, and it’s all thanks to one wonderful ingredient: chocolate.

Not just any chocolate, mind you. We’re talking about the one and only Drinking Chocolate from Chicago’s Katherine-Anne Confections. A favorite for both staff and customers ever since we debuted it on our menu. Right now, it’s the main feature in our Rose Haut Chocolate drink special, and we’ve stocked the Marketplace at our Calumet roasterie with a hand-picked selection of our favorite flavor varieties.

If you haven’t tried this swoon-worthy chocolate yet, have we got a valentine for you! We’re giving you our secret recipe for Rose Haut Chocolate for you to make and enjoy at home. But if you’re one of those people who requires some arm-twisting to treat yo’self, here’s a little Q&A with our friends from Katherine Anne Confections about what makes this drinking chocolate so damn dreamy.

Tell us how you developed this amazing chocolate.

I absolutely loved the drinking chocolate that I tried when I visited Paris. There, they serve drinking chocolate it fairly dark—about 70% cacao content—with sugar cubes on the side, so you can sweeten it to your own taste. You can’t get this drink “to go”—it’s made to be enjoyed slowly, one sip at a time.

When we opened our cafe in 2012, I decided that chocolate would be our signature drink. People try it and say things like, “I didn’t realize hot chocolate could be this good” or “I haven’t had chocolate like this since I was in Europe.” It has been written up in a lot of “Best Of” lists. The award we love to tout is the Specialty Food Association award, which is based on blind taste tests—the evaluators never see what they’re trying. Our Salted Caramel and Mexican drinking chocolates have both won this award.

What makes drinking chocolate different from the hot chocolate we all know?

It’s really high quality chocolate. Even if you were to just pick up a piece of the chocolate we use in our products, it’s a completely different flavor from a Hershey bar or something. A big part of it is just buying chocolate that’s really good. We use 100% Fair Trade chocolate sourced from Guittard, and add salt and lots of cream to create a ganache base. Doing it this way makes a big textural difference compared to using cocoa powder. When you make an actual ganache out of whole chocolate, you get a thick, silky-smooth mouthfeel.

From there, we’ve developed our flavors using whole ingredients—we don’t use syrups or extracts or anything like that. For our Hazelnut chocolate, we use an unsweetened roasted hazelnut paste, and our Salted Caramel drinking chocolate has real toffee bits in the mix.

What are some of your favorite add-ins or garnishes that take this drinking chocolate to the next level?

The most obvious addition is our pillowy marshmallows. They’re completely different from the s’more marshmallows you’d buy at the grocery store. It’s a lovely, super light, lofty marshmallow. We boil sugar syrup to a specific temperature, then whip it with gelatin so it’s mostly air. Instead of corn syrup, we use a local wildflower honey, which gives the marshmallow a delicate floral note.

As far as the chocolate itself, you can add spices, orange zest, fresh mint leaves...you can even add peanut butter! Back when we had in-store dining, we would do a crushed toffee on top, a chocolate pearl, crushed peanuts. For the Mexican hot chocolate, we’d use the hulls of pink peppercorns , just the flaky part on the outside, as a garnish.

What does chocolate mean for you?

I've been here for three years, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to eat and drink the chocolate all the time. Often, when someone orders a drinking chocolate to go, someone on staff will mosey along and ask the person making the drink, “Hey, if you happen to 'accidentally' make a little extra, I'll be happy to finish it!”

Rose Haut Chocolate

This ultra-rich, rose-scented recipe is our valentine to you. Don’t hold back—doll it up with some homemade whipped cream, a torched Katherine Anne marshmallow, crushed dried rose petals, a handful of conversation hearts, a smashed truffle…whatever makes you feel the love.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Katherine-Anne Semi-Sweet Drinking Chocolate
  • 10 oz. milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon rose-infused simple syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon white chocolate syrup

Steps

  1. Add drinking chocolate, white chocolate and rose syrup into a large glass mug.
  2. Add a small amount of hot water to mug.
  3. Whisk together until the chocolate and syrup are thoroughly liquefied and mixed.
  4. Warm milk in a pan or with a steam wand to desired temperature.
  5. Add warm milk to mug while continuously mixing—leave at least 1/2 at the top.
  6. Top with whipped cream, a Katherine-Anne marshmallow, and your favorite garnish.
Be sure to post a photo of your drinking chocolate creation on Instagram, and tag @keweenawcoffeeworks and @katherineanneconfections for a chance to have your creation reposted.
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