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An Adventure in Hot Chocolate

photo_23071_20130122Well, the fall and winter will be here before you know it, as are many days (and nights) of cold, rain, snow, ice and wind.  Thanks to a trunk load of firewood we got this weekend – courtesy of my dad – our fireplace is at the ready, waiting to be called into action. What better companion to a warm fire on a cold night than a steamy, yummy, sweet, decadent mug of hot chocolate? Say no more! Time to set up a super amazing hot chocolate bar and start the season’s many variations of cocoa yumminess.

Start with your favorite hot chocolate.  While a package from a box will do in a pinch, there’s no comparison to homemade.  Here are a couple of our very simple, tried-and-true recipes.

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The first is from Giada de Laurentiis:

Basic Hot Chocolate

4 servings

  • 4 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot.

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Alton Brown’s Powdered Hot Chocolate Mix

Makes about 5 ½ cups

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • Hot water

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. This makes a dry mix to add to hot water or milk, 1:1.  Fill your mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water or milk. Stir to combine. Seal the rest in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry.

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Now for the best part!  Pull out the goodies, mix-ins, decorations, and yummy stuff. Lay ‘em out and dive in! Here’s our list to get you started.

Mini-marshmallows, of course!

Crushed pepperminthot chocolate

Chocolate/white/butterscotch chips

Cinnamon candies – crushed

Flavored marshmallows (coconut, peppermint, peanut butter, etc)

Crumbled toffee bar pieces

Peanut Butter

M & M’s

Cinnamon

Cayenne (yes!)

Whipped cream – freeze in dollops to have on hand whenever the mood strikes (thanks, Creative Mama! http://thecreativemama.com/frozen-whipped-cream-dollops/ )

Nutella

Sprinkles

Caramel ice cream topping

Flavored syrups – vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, hazelnut, espresso, raspberry

And, some grown-up additions:

Liqueurs – Kahlua, Baileys, Peppermint schnapps

Meyers Dark Rum, Wild Turkey, Whipped or Fluffed Vodka

 

A couple of tips we’ve found helpful:

Having a group of friends over or a family gathering? Make larger quantities of hot chocolate in a crock pot.

  • Any kind of milk will do – cow, almond, soy, coconut, whatever you like.
  • Use peppermint sticks as stirrers.
  • Don’t forget the cookies!

Enjoy and stay warm this winter! Doesn’t get cold where you live? Turn your hot chocolate creations into popsicles!