Sunday, December 4, 2011

All I need *

It's strange what I miss being away from home. Besides my family and friends, what I miss the most are the small things. The way the sun shines gloriously in Greece, the way the rain smells when it hits the rocky hills of Athens, the way the sea glistens under the moonlight at Batis beach.

It's the small things in food, too. I miss our sardines and anchovies, they taste like nothing else in the world, my favorite feta, aged in large wooden barrels, that I buy from a shop in my neighborhood, and Miranda biscuits, which I crave when it's really cold outside and all I want is to drink a hot cup of cocoa.

Sure, Holland is famous for its cookies and pastries, but nothing beats Greek Miranda cereal biscuits. When I was little, my mom would make for my brother and me her famous hot cocoa, always with Van Houten, and she'd give us a box of Mirandas. We would use the hot cocoa as a dip, dunking the rectangle-sized biscuits in it, allowing them to soften and then devouring them in one huge bite.

When my mom visited me this past August, among the numerous foodstuff she brought with her, she also brought me Mirandas. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I saw her taking the boxes of biscuits out of her overstuffed suitcase. My instinct, even if we were in the middle of a heat wave, was to immediately go into the kitchen and make myself a hot cocoa, or better yet, a hot chocolate. And so I did.

I may still be trying to find a recipe for making these Miranda biscuits (and if anyone knows, please share) but I have already found the recipe for my ideal hot chocolate. Not cocoa, chocolate. That's the best.

There's something about pure, dark chocolate melting into hot, steaming milk that gets my taste buds all tingly and excited. When the smell penetrates my nostrils, I'm filled with anticipation for the hot, dark, liquid gold. There's just nothing like it.

Seventy percent chocolate, whole milk, and my secret ingredient, kaimaki (or kaymak). No need for heavy or whipped cream when there's something like kaimaki around, with its rich, creamy texture, to give the hot chocolate that extra-velvety consistency. One tablespoon is enough to make a difference.

Tackling the heavy Dutch winters is not an easy thing. A cup of this hot chocolate drink and a boxful of my favorite biscuits, is all I really need to make it just a little bit easier.

* The writing of this post was accompanied by the music of Air and especially by this song.

Hot Chocolate

I always use 70% chocolate for this drink and of course, the better the quality of the chocolate, the better the quality of the drink. As I always say where chocolate is concerned, make sure you use one whose taste you really like, otherwise you're not going to enjoy the flavor of the drink.

In case you can't find kaimaki where you live (try Middle Eastern stores), you can substitute with clotted cream, crème fraîche or even whipped cream (but it's not going to be the same).

And if you prefer hot cocoa rather than hot chocolate, check this out.

Yield: 2 large (or 4 small) cups

500 ml whole milk
100 g good quality chocolate, 70% (I use Lindt), plus some extra shavings for sprinkling on top
1 Tbsp sugar (or to taste, depending on how sweet you like your chocolate)
2 Tbsp fresh kaimaki

Chop the chocolate into small pieces.

In a small saucepan, add the milk and heat over medium heat. When it starts to steam, add the chopped chocolate and stir with a whisk. When the chocolate has melted, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Don't allow the milk to boil.
Turn the heat off and beat the hot chocolate well with the whisk, in order to create a light foam. Pour immediately into two large cups, add a tablespoon of kaimaki on each cup and sprinkle some chocolate shavings on top.

Enjoy with your favorite biscuits!


  1. There is something fantastically comforting about hot chocolate. I was just taking photos of some of my morning chocolate today. I make mine with a mix of chocolate bar (86%) and 100% powdered chocolate, with almond milk and vanilla extract. I haven't heard of kaimake -- it sounds heavenly, though. When studying abroad I missed the strangest foods -- it really is the small things.

  2. Great post which has made me all nostalgic on this rather dreary Sunday. I must admit to liking winter and the comfort you can enjoy, especially hot chocolate. What is it about certain biscuits that makes them so special? With me it's digestives, either plain or covered in dark chocolate. I'd never heard of kaimaki but it sounds good. Air's music is so great, especially this song and also the Virgin Suicides soundtrack.

  3. Mmmmm love this and there is no better hot sokolata than I've ever had than the ones in Greece. I love how you added kaimaki too! NICE!

  4. Thank you for a lovely chocolate / biscuit snack which you have written so well it was as if I tasted it. The song was don't write often Magda but when you do it really a piece of prose. Well done.

  5. As someone who has never had coffee or tea, I love reading great new recipes for either hot cocoa or hot chocolate! Thank you for stating the difference! So many people think they are one and the same. And speaking of which, it is time for my daily does. Maybe I can find some kaimaki on my way home today...

  6. Ooooh I can just taste those cookies dunked in the hot chocolate. We were on the same wavelength it seems, my last post is all about missing things from home, or from our childhood. I hope you find a reciped for Mirandas.

  7. lauren — your version of hot chocolate sounds fantastic. Almond milk huh? I have to give that a try!

    Emily Vanessa — chocolate covered digestives are amazing. I love them. Not as much as Mirandas of course :) I'm sure you can find kaimaki in Berlin. Turkish grocery stores definitely carry it, under the name kaymak. You must look for it. Oh, a fellow Air fan :)

    Anna — yes, kaimaki adds that special something. Thanks!

    Stelio — thank you very much!

    Cocoa and Lavender — I remember you mentioning that you drink hot chocolate rather than coffee! I hope you enjoy my version if you get the chance to try it.

    Nuts about food — I really hope so too!

  8. Awwww, bless, comfort food! :-D lovely post!

  9. This looks so delicious, Magda. Thank you for introducing me to kaimaki and Mirandas.

    PS - I made some beans this evening, inspired by your beautiful "Giant beans and small chilies" post. They were delicious.

  10. Those cookies look lovely and your hot chocolate must taste divine, mmmhh!



  11. I will have to look for kaymak - we really love a GOOD cup of hot chocolate too. I can imagine how much you miss the gorgeous color and sun of Greece. And those anchovies :)

  12. Ah, childhood cookies, there is nothing like them! It looks like your mum did grow you properly for moving to Holland though, with the Van Houten cocoa (I had the same when I was a child :))

  13. Like Like !! First picture did transport me to Greece... Wish i could sip it now :)

  14. What a lovely post; it's interesting how things seem to be so dear to you when you're far away, right? They just seemed so normal when you see or get them everyday, but then they elevated to the precious status when you don't have them at's just like that, and that's how we all are too :)
    I could sit here and think of things that I miss from home too...but that would be my post..LOL :p

  15. hot chocolate really makes the world a sweeter place, being homesick is never fun. sending you warm texas hugs!!

  16. There is nothing so comforting and homey as a cup of hot cocoa and a simple biscuit/cookie for dunking on a cold winter afternoon as the light is fading. Your photos are very, very cozy.

  17. lovely! I can share the sentiment with you.

    I wish I could have a cup of hot choc now!

  18. That is one mug of hot cocoa deliciousness :)

  19. Yes, hot chocolate is the best. I moved from a warm climate to a constantly chilly one this year and I'm finding any sort of warm/hot drink is so comforting and necessary. I'll have to look for Kaymak now!

    p.s. I was born in Athens but was too young when we left to remember anything. Can't wait to go back and immerse in the culture and food.

  20. Oh My!
    Love the music to drink by!