John’s Classic Drinking Chocolate

Everywhere I go—the bookstore, the farmers’ market, every single cocktail party—people ask me, “What’s your favorite dessert?” I hate the question, because people expect me to say a mile-high chocolate cake or something really ornate. Instead, I like to make really good, thick hot chocolate and serve it at the end of a meal. I use my favorite demitasse cups, and place a few slices of a perfect pear or two pieces of shortbread on the plate next to the cup. That’s my favorite dessert. During the holidays, I add rum or brandy and serve it instead of eggnog. Personally, I’m not a fan of cinnamon or other spices in hot chocolate because I think it diverts attention from the chocolate’s flavor, but for an authentic Mexican style chocolate, add the cinnamon and cayenne. This can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated, but if you use the spices, keep in mind their flavor intensifies over time. Serves 6 to 12.