we’re back!

Through the haze of starting a new position at work, football season, and weekends filled with visitors and traveling…and despite having been on a bit of a hiatus, this blog and donnerstags auf deutsch have been on my mind.   So with the first down weekend at home we’ve been able to have a little revival!

It’s officially winter in Pennsylvania, or at least I am ready to make that declaration since we now have 30 degree weather and Halloween has passed, which means it is officially hot cocoa season.  For this German Thursday, which actually happened on Friday, I made an Viennese style hot chocolate recipe. After doing a little bit of research on hot cocoa recipes from Germany, and then in other countries in Europe, I decided that I wanted to make a hot cocoa that was completely rich and outrageous and departure for the recipe I use on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa power box.  Austrian hot chocolate is very rich and thick, made with heavy cream or thickened with a egg yolk and topped with whipped cream, was exactly was I was looking for.  The recipe I chose Friday night was ridiculously simple and hands down the most amazingly decadent hot chocolate I’ve ever made.  Kelsey described it as almost drinking brownie batter.  In total honesty this is the hot chocolate that tops all other hot chocolates, which I realize is a serious statement, but I seriously think that it might be able to cure all bad days and maybe even the common cold or flu.  I used 60% dark chocolate chips, 2 % milk, and canned whipped cream (I did buy a 70% dark chocolate bar that was used the next night for another batch which was also quite good, but I preferred the 60% as I like my cocoa a little sweeter). I’ve found a few other recipes (here and here) that I plan to try throughout the season, but it might be a little difficult to stray from the first one I’ve tried.

Viennese Hot Chocolate

Viennese Hot Chocolate

Viennese Hot Chocolate (2-3 servings)
1 1/4 c. milk
6oz chocolate (60-70%)
1 egg yolk
Whipped Cream (garnish on top)

Heat milk and chocolate in a saucepan, whisking frequently, do not boil.  Once the chocolate and milk have combined, taste milk and add sugar depending on your preferences, and remove from heat.  In a separate bowl temper the egg yolk with two tablespoons of the heated milk and chocolate mixture.  Whisk this egg mixture into the saucepan and return to heat.  Stir constantly to thicken the mixture and heat through, take care not to boil as the egg will curdle. Divide hot chocolate between three cups (tea cups were the perfect size) and top with whipped cream.

I’ve been wanting to see A Coffee in Berlin for some time since I read several reviews a few months ago in the New York Times (or maybe it was Roger Ebert’s website) when it was playing in select cities in the US this past summer.  A Coffee in Berlin (or Oh Boy as it was originally titled) follows Niko, a twenty-something, unemployed law-school dropout living in Berlin who has been living off school funds provided by his father (who doesn’t know Niko’s left school).  The entire plot takes place in one 24 hour period as Niko travels around the city meeting with his father (after his funds have run dry), friends, and new people…attempting to get a cup of coffee.

Several reviews compared A Coffee in Berlin to Frances Ha and various Woody Allen movies, which on the surface I can agree; Niko can be described as awkward, lost, maybe a little lazy or selfish but somehow charming. The movie does have a plot but it is mostly all internal, and the movie is in black and white.   But the comparisons, at least in my opinion, end there.   Frances Ha was about Frances going through the typical mid-twenties growing pains in regard to the way friendships change and reconciling your dreams and what you want to do with being responsible finding a way to support yourself financially and emotionally.  A Coffee in Berlin is different, Niko is lost and doesn’t know what to do with himself or really the people around him, but on a larger scale this movie was more about Berlin and Germany and the past what it is to live there now.  I don’t know if I can describe this correctly or if this is the intention of the movie, but I mention this because of two scenes. In one,Niko and a friend visit as actor on set of a WWII film. The other, Niko meets an older man, back in Berlin in his old neighborhood after being away for 60 years, who recounts his recollection of Kristallnacht. I think this is a movie that will work for some and not for others.  It’s funny and sad and thoughtful and at times cringe-worthy.  For me, it was well worth the wait (it’s now available for instant stream on amazon); visually it’s beautiful, the soundtrack is that comfortable lazy jazz – if that’s your thing, and overall I thought it was lovely a film that has made me think…or made me really think about what I wanted to say in a review.

As far as language resources, I think I’ve found an online program that works for me, well at this point I really just need to make it a habit to devote time regularly to working through the lessons.  The online German course from DW-WORLD.DE teaches grammar as well as vocabulary and phrases.

Until the next time, I will be combing through German cookie recipes I plan to work into my Christmas cookie baking this year and drinking hot chocolate. bis später.

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