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Hot Chocolate For Cold Winter Nights

December 16, 2010

It’s been that kind of week. Cold temperatures, biting wind, flurries … makes you just want to bundle up inside with your favorite blanket and a big cup of hot chocolate. Or at least it makes me want to do that, so that’s what I did last night. I was in dire need of a chocolate fix period, and since we’re all out of crackles, I found comfort and warmth, per the usual, in the bottom of a glass. Except this glass contained a recipe I can share!

Most of the really good hot chocolate recipes call for melting bars of chocolate in simmering milk. While that’s all fine and good, I only had unsweetened cocoa powder and I sure wasn’t going back out in the cold for anything. But, in perhaps the service journalism category, this is a great mix to pack into jars and give as a holiday gift — if you know anyone that loves dark, rich chocolate, they’ll love this. I’m sure it would be even better with high-quality cocoa powder and whole milk, but the Trader Joe’s brand did me proud. Also, in an effort to get the hot chocolate in my hands as soon as possible, I kind of forgot about taking pictures … but the chocolate is definitely better than the terrible pictures I took.

– 2 cups milk

– 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder*

– 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

– a pinch of salt

*Can also use Dutch-process cocoa for a less bitter taste.

1) In a small saucepan, heat up the milk. Add the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, cinnamon and salt.

2) Heat through, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is smooth. Strain to catch any chocolate clumps, then serve.

Note: You could vary this recipe in any number of ways, perhaps by changing cinnamon to other warm spices, such as clove, ginger or nutmeg (or fooling around with the amount of cinnamon), adding vanilla extract or simmering a scraped vanilla bean with the milk, simmering an orange peel with the milk, putting in a Kahlua, Bailey’s, bourbon, whiskey or rum for a more grown-up ho-cho. You could even steep a bag of chai tea in the milk, to create a hot chocolate chai.

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