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Bicerin is a deservedly-popular drink in Torino, Italy. It’s a layered beverage: one-third hot espresso, one-third hot chocolate, and one-third softly whipped cream. My version is a little less work and tastes almost as good. You’ll need 10 ounce mugs for this, preferably of clear glass to show off the contrast between dark beverage and whipped cream topping. Please use the best chocolate you can find for this; it really does make a difference.
This is an over-the-top drink. I heard a story once that a seller of Bicerin in Torino was continuing that theme with a very expensive Bicerin garnished with flakes of real gold leaf. I’ve never been able to confirm this story, and I’m not sure I believe it, but it is intriguing. If that’s too rich for your blood, use a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, a pinch of shaved/grated chocolate, or a combination of the two.
1/3 cup heavy cream
3-1/2 ounces best-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped
1-1/2 cups very hot, strong, brewed coffee
Finely shaved or grated chocolate
Fill two mugs, each of 10 ounce capacity, with very hot water. Set aside. In chilled bowl with chilled beaters, whip the cream just until you can see definite traces of the beaters in the cream (in this case, if you overwhip the cream slightly, it isn’t a tragedy). Place bowl of cream in refrigerator with beaters still in it, in case they’re needed later.
In small, heatproof, non-aluminum bowl, place chocolate, which MUST be very finely chopped. Add about one-third of the hot coffee. Allow to stand for a few seconds, then whisk briskly until smooth. Gradually add remaining hot coffee, whisking until smooth after each addition. Mixture will be thin. Work quickly from here on out.
Pour hot water out of mugs and dry them quickly (you don’t need to be too thorough). Divide hot coffee mixture evenly between mugs. Check cream; if it needs to be re-beaten for a few seconds, do so now. Divide cream between mugs evenly, spooning it on carefully so it floats on top of coffee-chocolate mixture. If desired, garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a pinch of grated chocolate. Serve immediately!