Chia tea, white hot chocolate and spicy dark chocolate

Bill's Basics cookbook

Bill’s basics, 256pp.
by Bill Granger
HarperCollins Publishers Australia, Pymble NSW, 2010
Cooking on page 32–33

Bill has been a big name on the Australian food scene since the early 1990s. In fact, in 1993, he dropped out of art school and opened his first restaurant in Sydney.

He’s a self-taught cook and focuses on recipes that use fresh, local ingredients. In addition to running restaurants in Japan, the United Kingdom and Australia, Bill has written 10 cookbooks and delivered a couple of TV series. He’s also featured on the radio and writes a regular food column.

This book is a great one for beginning cooks, and pages 32–33 have pictures and recipes for four drinks—chai tea, white hot chocolate, spicy dark chocolate and coffee.

I had trouble deciding which one to share here—too much temptation—so I made the first three. Surely everyone can figure out how to make coffee. I didn’t photograph the white chocolate. White chocolate in white milk in a white cup didn’t look very exciting.

The sections on ‘how it played out’ and ‘verdict’ appear at the bottom.

chia and banana bread

Chai tea

Ingredients
1 star anise
10 cloves
6 whole allspice berries, crushed with the flat of a knife
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods, crushed with the flat of a knife
1–1.5 (4–6 cups) milk
1 tablespoon loose-leaf tea
2–3 tablespoon sugar, plus extra to taste

chia ingredients

Method
Put the star anise, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, milk, tea and sugar in a pan with 250ml (1 cup) water. Stir over medium heat for 3–5 minutes, or until the chai is hot and the flavours have infused. Check for sweetness, then pour into cups through a fine strainer.

Serves 4–6.

White hot chocolate

Ingredients and method
Stir 625ml (2 1/2 cups) milk, 150g chopped white chocolate and 80ml (1/3 cup) brandy (optional) over medium heat until the chocolate melts and the milk is hot. Pour into glasses and top with grated nutmeg.

Serves 4.

spicy dark chocolate

Spicy dark chocolate

Ingredients and method
Put a split red chilli and 250ml (1 cup) water in a pan and bring to the boil. Boil until reduced by half. Strain and keep the water.

Put 500ml (2 cups) milk, 1 split vanilla pod and 1 cinnamon stick in a pan and stir until bubbles appear around the edge. Turn the heat to low and add 150g chopped dark chocolate and 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir until melted and dissolved. Remove from the heat and remove the vanilla and cinnamon. Add the chilli water to taste and serve.

Serves 4.

spicy chocolate ingredients

How they played out
It’s winter now in Australia, so these beverages were perfect for a chilly weekend. I made all three as written. They are super easy and super fast to make.

Verdicts
Spicy dark chocolate is hands-down a brilliant drink. Yum, yum, yummo! I’ll be making a supply of chilli water so I can make this often over winter.

White hot chocolate was also delicious, especially because I added the brandy. It will get more outings this winter.

We drank chai all over India earlier this year and this version wasn’t even remotely up to scratch. Really watery and without much spice flavour. The best thing it had going for it was that I could pour it into the small pottery cup I got at a tea stall in rural India. You can read about that cup here.

chai in earthenware cup

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About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
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