By Sarah Harris
Fellow students, we have returned to Swansea. Moreover, we have returned to a Swansea where the sky is grey and miserable and the clouds are leaking a remarkable volume of water. The Christmas holidays are well and truly over and we are haunted by the spectres of lectures past, unfinished essays and the promise of exams to come.
What can help us in these desperate, desperate times? After much deliberation, I believe I may have found the answer: there is one drink to rule them all. I know what you’re all thinking, but let us be real, it’s not Tesco value vodka, a fate worse than that you’re trying to escape. Nor is it one pound Jagerbombs from Jack Murphys, despite their impressive money-to-alcohol ratio. It’s not even that most British of beverages, the trusty cup of builder’s tea.
Naturally, I am referring to the good ole hot chocolate. Cwtch down where the treacherous weather can’t hurt you, cocoon yourself in several blankets and a hot water bottle, and throw all your tenuously-held New Years dieting resolutions into those stormy winds outside.
Not meaning to blow my own trumpet too much, but I consider myself something of an expert in the field of hot chocolate. Although few people believe me when I say this (some even question my sanity) hot chocolate making really is an art form.
So without further ado, some basic requirements must be addressed. Firstly, hot chocolate made with boiling water is little more than a sacrilege and should be avoided like the plague. In all seriousness, it is an insult to the senses. Milk is the one and only option. (Unless you can afford to buy double cream on a regular basis, in that case, dairy out to your hearts content.)
My first serving suggestion is of course the classic Bailey’s hot chocolate, as naturally the only possible way of improving creamy chocolatiness is to add alcohol. The knack with this little number is perfecting the amount of Baileys, as too much can cause the milk to easily form a skin, which is of course revolting. This take on the classic hot chocolate takes some trial and error to perfect, but once you’ve got it, you’ll become a god amongst men, or at the very most, a favourite housemate amongst longing students.
Want a hot chocolate to wake you up without the alcohol, then mint has to be the go to. More refreshing, but not any less comforting, crush some mint candy (leftover candy canes are perfect) and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the mint onto the top of the hot chocolate. It will sink to the bottom of the mug and melt into the drink.
Finally, for the more adventurous amongst you is the Aztec Hot Chocolate. This involves a half-teaspoon of cinnamon, but also crucially a tiny pinch of Cayenne pepper (or less tiny if you dare). This one provides the ideal mix of comfort and spicy kick for a mid-revision crisis break.
My last message to all fellow hot chocolate lovers everywhere is to get creative. Use marshmallows, use whipped cream, use sprinkles and biscuits, use sugar and spice and all things nice. I hope now that you all believe me when I say, Hot chocolate is an art form: let’s keep it that way.