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Monday, November 15

Anyone for Hot Chocolate?

Remember when you were a kid in the winter?  You'd spend time playing with your friends, then when you came inside, your Mom would have a steaming cup of hot chocolate waiting for you to warm up with?  Even growing up in Florida as I did, I still have those memories...and for me, it was "love in a cup" (sounds funny, but it made you feel so special).

While I know kids don't play outside like they used to (what a shame), it's still easy to hand them your own version of "love in a cup".  Now, I'm not talking about warming milk and adding NesQuik, or some other premade mix.  I'm talking old-fashioned, do it yourself, Hot Chocolate.  It's not nearly as hard as you might think, and your family will love it!!  So, let's get out the board games, set up some munchies, and grab the mugs...it's going to be a great night of family, games, and some old-fashioned warmth!!

I have several recipes for you today, from all over our great world.  First, we'll cover what the President himself enjoys...White House Hot Chocolate.  We'll follow that with one that creates a unique twist to the traditional...Aztec Chili Chocolate.  After that, we'll visit another country, and try some Mexican Hot Mocha, with subtle hints of cinnamon and coffee.  Finally, we'll end today's trek with a more adult version from France...Grand Marnier Hot Chocolate.  Enjoy the trip, and remember to bring your cup!!  For the recipes that require hard chocolate, remember that quality does count, so I recommend Baker's of Ghirardelli.

WHITE HOUSE HOT CHOCOLATE

6 tablespoons cocoa powder (such as Hershey's)
6 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups light cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Cinnamon, to taste (usually 1/2-1 teaspoon is plenty)
whipped cream and orange zest, for garnish (if desired)

In a medium saucepan, combine cocoa, sugar and milk using a whisk.  Heat on medium low, stirring often, until simmering (do NOT allow to boil).  Add in cream, vanilla, and cinnamon to taste, and heat through (again, do NOT allow to boil).  Serve in mugs, and top with whipped cream and orange zest, if desired.  Makes 4-6 servings.

AZTEC CHILI CHOCOLATE

1 2/3 milk
1/2 vanilla bean (you may substitute 3-4 drops of vanilla extract)
1 small red chili pepper (cayenne peppers are perfect...about 3 inches long)
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2oz bittersweet chocolate, shaved
Sugar, to taste (add after your done)

Clean the pepper; split lengthwise, remove seeds and membrane, and place in small saucepot intact.  Add milk, vanilla bean (or extract), and cinnamon stick (broken into 2-3 pieces).  Heat slowly (do NOT allow to boil).  Add chocolate, stirring well to melt and blend; let stand 10 minutes.  Pour through strainer to remove pepper, vanilla bean, and cinnamon sticks.  Pour into mugs, and add sugar to taste.  Makes 2 servings.

MEXICAN HOT MOCHA

1 1/2oz unsweetened chocolate, shaved
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup water
2 cups milk
whipped cream, for garnish (if desired)

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except milk, and heat almost to a boil, stirring often to melt the chocolate.  Once the chocolate is melted, heat for about 5 more minutes.  Add the milk, and bring back to temperature, but do NOT allow to boil.  Pour into mugs, and top with whipped cream, if desired.  Makes 2 servings.

GRAND MARNIER HOT CHOCOLATE

1 cup half-n-half OR light cream
2 cups milk
1/2 cup orange juice
6oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup Grand Marnier liqueur
Sugar, to taste (if needed)

In a medium saucepot, heat half-n-half OR light cream, milk, and orange juice to simmering (do NOT allow to boil).  Add in chocolate, whisking to evenly blend and melt.  Continue simmering for another 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat.  Stir in the Grand Marnier, mixing well.  Pour into mugs, then add sugar to taste, if needed.  Makes 3-4 servings.

There you have it folks...warmth and love from around the world.  Now, it's up to you.  Get the fireplace going, gather the family together, and experience "love in a cup".  ENJOY!!!


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