For Epicurious, by Joe Sevier.
I was once like you. “White chocolate?” I’d say. “No thanks. I prefer dark.”
I let white chocolate skepticism take control of my dessert life. I wanted only to bask in the ebony glow of semi- and bittersweet chocolate; serve me anything less than 70 percent and I doubted your sophistication.
Then one day I ate a truffle from Vosges Haut-Chocolat. I can’t remember what compelled me to choose this particular truffle, especially when they have so many sinfully decadent dark options to choose from. But I do remember that when I bit into that truffle, I experienced the snap of a perfectly tempered shell. Next came the flavor: fresh cream, vanilla, maybe a hint of butterscotch. These weren’t added flavors — they were the complex notes inherent in the white chocolate itself. As my teeth sank deeper, the shell gave way to a gush of silky white chocolate ganache. And that ganache was flavored. With cinnamon.
In that moment, lightbulbs flashed over my head. Fireworks exploded before my eyes. The ground swept away from beneath my feet. I felt like the Millionaire Matchmaker (minus the ridiculousness), like I’d just discovered one of world’s most fortuitous love stories: that between white chocolate and cinnamon.
Since that day I’ve paired the two in any way that I could. When I worked in restaurants, I once made a dessert of cinnamon cake layered with white chocolate mouse, and finished the dish with a simple raspberry sauce. I’ve coated white chocolate truffles with a 1:3 mix of cinnamon and powdered sugar. Classic white chocolate–macadamia nut cookies? At least 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon is going into that dough.
Related: 9 Reasons to Love White Chocolate
And then I made this white hot chocolate.
It’s at once creamy and warmly — but not overtly — spicy. Instead of ground cinnamon — which would leave the drink with a gritty texture — I steep toasted cinnamon sticks in milk, as if making tea. White chocolate then both sweetens the drink and enhances its fresh milky flavor; a touch of vanilla perfumes it further. Cornstarch makes the finished white hot chocolate unbelievably creamy — but if you’re not into cornstarch, you can certainly leave it out. A spoon of freshly whipped cream — unsweetened, because most white chocolate has plenty of sweetness on its own — gives it one last dash of decadence, and a final dusting of ground cinnamon sends spicy, comfort-fueled aromas right to the pleasure center of your brain. It’ll make you reconsider your white chocolate aversion. And if it doesn’t? Nothing will.
More from Epicurious: