Sometimes you just need some hot chocolate, and sometimes that’s at 2 AM when all you’ve got is an expired Swiss Miss packet hidden in the depths of your pantry. What a sad state of affairs. Avoid that tragedy by always having hot chocolate mix by Katherine Anne Confections, proudly made in Logan Square. In flavors such as Mexican, semisweet, milk, and superdark, there are options for all kinds of cravings. The honorable mention goes to the salted caramel flavor, which is perfectly rich, sweet, and a tad bitter, with that lovely dark brown hue to be expected from a good cup of hot chocolate. The surprise factor comes with the nutty and buttery caramel taste, which is the real thing, as owner and master chocolatier Katherine Duncan, 37, explains: “I came up with the idea when brainstorming one day of how to get real caramel flavor (not just extract) into a shelf-stable chocolate mix. We mixed in chunks of our housemade toffee, and loved it. It takes a little bit longer to melt together, but the flavor is incomparable. We use a mix of bittersweet, semisweet, and milk chocolates; sea salt; and our housemade toffee (made with organic sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla).” Both the salted caramel and Mexican flavors received gold sofi Awards by the Specialty Food Association—aka the Oscars of the specialty food industry.
The mix is pretty versatile and can be used to top ice cream, yogurt, oatmeal, s’mores, coffee, etc.—or simply be eaten directly out of the jar. To prepare hot chocolate, Duncan suggests heating and whisking equal parts of chocolate and liquid, such as cream, milk, or oat milk. Then, add another one to two parts of hot liquid. “Less instant, more delicious,” she says of her brew, which she likes to prepare with cream in the first phase, and coconut milk in the next. I personally make this hot chocolate fairly instantly by heating up almond milk, then pouring just enough of it to cover half a cup of the chocolate. I stir until the chocolate melts, then add some more of the hot almond milk. Some of the caramel stays in the spoon and I love it. It takes less than three minutes and three dishes.
But if even that sounds onerous to you, just go to Katherine Anne Confections and choose from 15 different prepared drinking chocolates in the shop, including several vegan choices, and a bevy of seasonal flavors (right now they have vegan butterscotch and brown buttered rum, among others). The prices are $6 for medium and $9 for large, and all come topped with housemade marshmallows. The mix costs $26 for the 15-ounce jar, and can make anywhere from six to 15 servings. Mixes can be purchased at Katherine Anne’s shop, online through their website ($15 shipping), by local delivery via Cut Cats courier ($5-$20), or at L&M Fine Foods in Lincoln Square.
Katherine Anne Confections
2745 W. Armitage
Hours: 11 AM-7 PM Mondays to Saturdays, 11 AM-5 PM Sundays
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