Monday, November 7, 2011

Cold Fingers and Warm Cocoa

The seasons first snowfall, the view from our deck
Cheers! We got our first snowfall this weekend. I know some are complaining but I love the beginning of every season and I have to admit, we had one hell of a beautiful Autumn here.

I moved into my new house in July and I absolutely love it but I have to say over the weekend, it began to really feel like home. What says warmth and family and home like snow falling outside, kids running in and out asking for cocoa while their little faces are red from the cold, all while a big dish of comfort food is in the oven or the stovetop or the crockpot?

Saturday, my sis came for a visit and it made me realize we should all make more time for that. My sister lives about 3 and half hours away and we see each other two or three times. We tend to think "Oh, I don't want to go all that way for just one night." But that's what she did . . . she drove over Saturday morning, drove back Sunday. And bless her, it ended up being our first snowfall of the season!
Nate, Liam, and Paige - Cousins!

I love that our kids play so well together. As soon as my niece (Paige) and my nephew (Liam) got out of the truck, I didn't see them again until their little red faces were in my kitchen asking for cocoa. After pouring a cup, out the door they went again. I loved the sound of them playing Clash of the Titans or some other pretend game they made up as they went along. My nephew slayed Snowdragons and found Snowdragon eggs. My niece in true diva fashion ordered the boys up and down the hill. And Nate fought off the bad guys and kept them from getting in the house.

I ran out of Swiss Miss cocoa mix and with this crowd, that's a catastrophe of epic proportions. Worthy of a Clash of the Titans battle! I googled "Hot Cocoa" and found an article that discussed making the PERFECT cup of hot cocoa. Guess what? It does not in any way, shape or form, include directions to "boil a cup of water, pour in contents, stir." I'd include the link but I can't seem to find the article again anywhere!!

Being a lover of all things chocolate, I decided to give this a try. If you've never made cocoa this way, I say "Just Do It!" And don't delay - it ROCKS.

Hershey's Hot Cocoa Recipe
In a saucepan, mix together 1/4 cup of Hershey's Cocoa, 1/2 cup of sugar and a dash of salt. Stir in 1/3 cup of hot water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Add 4 cups of milk; stirring constantly, heat to serving temperature. Do Not Boil. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Beat with rotary beater or whisk until foamy. Serve topped with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired.

Now I wouldn't be me if I didn't monkey with the recipe at least a little bit. So before I did the milk part of the recipe, I threw in a small handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips and stirred until they melted. I also added a touch of cinnamon.

And here's something I learned from the article (that I can't find...sorry)...

hot cocoa made this way is even better if you let it sit overnight. And it's true! It was fantastic at first but it was something dreamy and creamy and filled with chocolatey goodness yesterday. I found myself completely alone Sunday so after dinner, I warmed the cocoa in the microwave, poured in some Bailey's Irish Cream with a hint of caramel, and topped it with some whipped cream. Then I enjoyed the warm cup of yumminess while watching The Walking Dead. Mmmmmmm....good!