Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Missing Swiss Miss

I miss Swiss Miss. Now, I know that Swiss Miss isn’t the best of hot chocolate mixes. I know that. And I would, if given the choice, prefer a hot chocolate made from Ghiradelli’s to one made from some bastardized version of Swiss chocolate. But it comes in those handy little packets, and you just dump the powder in, and add hot milk or water, and you have hot chocolate. Delicious, perfect, hot chocolate. I miss that.

Don’t get me wrong—the hot chocolate in the cafes in France is undeniably better than any I have ever had before. It is the perfect ratio of chocolate to milk, any where you buy it, whether it is at the seedy looking brasserie hidden in the corner of Perpignan’s Place de la Republique, or at a posh café in Paris’ 16th district. It is served hot, but not scalding, it needs no frills of whipped cream on top, and it is always in a wide mug that feels perfect in your hands.

The problem with this hot chocolate is that it is not at home. I cannot curl up on my bed with a book and a cup of this café hot chocolate. And that is where Swiss Miss comes in. In an effort to recreate my tea/hot chocolate/general warm drinks cupboard at home, I have purchased several boxes of tea, borrowed an electric kettle from a colleague, and searched in vain for a substitute for Swiss Miss. No quick, easy, just-add-water packets of hot chocolate to be found in France. I was not about to let this small obstacle prevent my snugness on a Sunday evening, so I bought a box of unsweetened cocoa powder (even Nestle brand, although Hershey’s would have felt more home-like) and prepared to get cozy.

The problems started when I read the instructions on the box for “chocolat chaud”. The recipe called for 400ml of milk. Who measures in milliliters? Well, the rest of the world, it turns out. No problem, it’s for two people, I’ll just divide everything else by two and use the amount of milk that can fit into a mug. But honestly, what the fuck is a “coffee spoon” worth of cocoa powder or sugar? Nobody, I mean nobody, measures anything in coffee spoons but T.S. Elliot.

The result of this bizarre, backwards form of measurement (why can’t they just use a teaspoon?) is sludge. Pure and simple, sludge. Every time I try to make hot chocolate, I make chocolate soup. Thick, far too rich to drink, chocolate flavored soup. And I try. I try changing the amounts of cocoa powder, adding more milk if it’s too thick. But it never works. I have not yet had that perfect cup of hot chocolate chez moi. And so, in the midst of the best hot chocolate on earth, I find myself yearning for that artificial powdery-ness of Swiss Miss.


B-Gabbard Fam said...

Cheese Louise Shlee! All you had to do was ask... I shall bring you some Swiss Miss in 27 days! Miss you!

Chelsea said...

Hahaha. I totally keep Swiss Miss on hand at ALL times. I understand.