Brrrrr … it has been “Le Grand Froid,” or the Big Chill, in Paris this weekend! With temperatures hovering around zero, our local wine store offered samples of their delicious Chartreuse liqueur. They handed me the recipe for Choco-Chartreuse, or Hot Chocolate with a dash of Chartreuse Liqueur, promising the 130 herbs and spices in the Chartreuse would do us a world of good. When it's that cold, it couldn't hurt, right?
The secret recipe for Chartreuse was a gift to the Carthusian monks, whose head monastery is the Grande Chartreuse near Grenoble in France. It was given to them over 500 years ago by the Artillery Marshall of Henri IV. He had in his possession an ancient manuscript for “The Elixir of Long Life.” This manuscript was probably invented by an alchemist in the 1500s with extensive knowledge of herbs and plants, for the recipe includes 130 of them. They are skilfully infused and blended with liquor to form a heavenly balance.
The recipe was so complicated that a century later the monks still hadn’t perfected the Elixir. One monk, Brother Maubec, began the quest to unravel the mysterious recipe. He died before completing the task, but on his deathbed passed his knowledge to his successor Brother Antoine.
Antoine completed it and the Carthusian monks began to manufacture and distribute small bottles on mules and sell in Grenoble. It proved an incredibly popular concoction and was said to prolong life. This elixir of health is made from all natural plants and herbs suspended in wine alcohol. You don’t need much to feel the effects as its 55% alcohol by volume and 110 proof. That's what makes it the perfect warming touch to a cup of hot cocoa.
Recipe for Hot Chocolate with Chartreuse
- 2 cups of milk (Note: Our favorite coffee roaster prepares his hot chocolate with only water so the flavor of the dark chocolate really comes through. You can try all water or 50/50 milk and water if you want a really deep chocolate taste. But this only works with gourmet hot chocolate powder, not the Nestle’s we grew up with.)
- 2 TBSP chocolate powder — to taste. I love the hot chocolate powder from Angelina, which is richer and darker like all good chocolates. Good hot chocolate powder makes a big difference to the taste.
- 2 tsp green Chartreuse liqueur
- Sugar to taste (Some hot chocolate powders are already pre-sweetened, so no need to add.)
1. In a small pot, put the Chartreuse and sugar and the stir.
2. Add the milk (or water or even a 50/50 milk – water combination).
3. Add chocolate powder and stir until dissolved. Don’t let it boil. Simply dissolve the chocolate.
While you can't visit the Grand Chartreuse, the Musée de la Grande Chartreuse nearby offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Charthusian order and, of course, their famous liqueur. This short video really highlights the gorgeous setting in the Chartreuse Mountains north of Grenoble. Why not enjoy it while sipping your Hot Chocolate with Chartreuse?