There's nothing I like better on a cozy winter afternoon than a cup of rich, creamy hot cocoa. I'm talking the real deal, not the sugary, insipid version that tastes like flavored water. While I love French chocolate, I was bowled over with one taste of Pernigotti cocoa powder. Pernigotti is a family-owned chocolate company based in the Piedmont region of Italy, and they are known around the world for their amazing chocolate products (they've been making chocolate since 1860).
What sets this cocoa powder apart is that there is more chocolate "fat" in it than ordinary cocoa powder. (According to baking guru David Leibowitz, cocoa powder is made when the cocoa beans are roasted, then ground to a paste. The thick paste is pressed between hydraulic plates, which squeezes out about half of the excess cocoa butter. A hard disk of cocoa powder remains, which is then grated into a fine powder.) Pernigotti leaves more fat in their cocoa than other producers, and they add a bit of vanilla for a sweeter, rounder flavor. It makes absolutely scrumptious hot cocoa but can also be used in brownies, truffles, or any other chocolate recipe that calls for cocoa powder.
You might find Pernigotti cocoa powder in this pretty tin (pictured) or more often it comes in a plastic, 2-pound bag at chef supply shops for about $12 a pound. (But look online; it's available at many online retailers.) And get ready for the best cup of hot chocolate you've tasted this winter!