LA VIDA DULCE HOT CHOCOLATE - adapted from "Barefoot Contessa"
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups half-and-half
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (Ghiradelli's is a good choice)
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (try Tobler or Lindt if available)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso or instant coffee
Whipped cream, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon for garnish if desired
Pour the milk and half-and-half in a stainless steel saucepan and place on medium heat to just below the simmering. Look for little bubbles around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat and add both chocolates, whisking till combined. When the chocolates are melted, add the sugar, vanilla, and espresso and whisk vigorously. Reheat gently and then serve immediately in very large latte cups. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle a bit of cocoa powder and cinnamon on top.
Note: You can kick this up with an ounce of Kahlua poured into the cup just before adding the hot chocolate. Stir gently, then top with garnishes. Serve with Italian cookies, in honor of the Winter Olympics. Makes 2 to 3 very large or 4 to 5 medium cups.