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National Hot Chocolate Day

Today is National Hot Chocolate Day!  In celebration, I offer you these recipes and ideas for making your hot chocolate extra special:
I occasionally watch Cityline on CityTV here in Canada.  My favourite days to watch are Mondays when it’s “Around the House Day” – devoted to cooking and gardening and things like that and Thursdays when it’s “Home Day” – devoted more to the home decorating and renovations kind of ideas.  They often have some great and unique ideas and I find this especially true at the holidays.  Anna Olson, one of my favourite TV chefs/cookbook authors (I have a signed copy of her latest cookbook “Fresh” waiting for me at a bookstore) was on recently and shared her ideas for making hot chocolate and I pass these along to you now.
Anna’s Basic Hot Chocolate:
She stirred together 2 T. of powdered milk, 1 1/2 T. of cocoa powder, and 1 1/2 T. sugar.  She then made this into a paste by stirring in 1/4 cup of milk.  She placed this paste in a small saucepan with another 1 1/4 cups milk and heated it gently over low heat until it came almost up to a simmer.  Stir this frequently as you heat it.  This recipe makes one generous 1 1/2 cup serving.
Anna’s variations:
1)  Put cold hot chocolate into an oven proof mug.  Place a square of puff pastry (thawed if from frozen) on top of each mug, allowing it to overhand by about 1/2 inch.  Brush the top with an eggwash.  Sprinkle with large crystal sugar (she suggests Turbinado) and a little cinnamon if desired and bake this in a 400 degree F oven until golden brown. This takes about 10-15 minutes.
2)  Top your prepared hot chocolate with whipped cream, some caramel sauce, and a little Fleur de Sel.
3)  Stir your hot chocolate with a marshmallow stir stick – make this by sticking a long pretzel stick into a marshmallow and then dip this into melted chocolate.  Put these on a tray lined with waxed paper or parchment to allow the chocolate to set before using.
4) Rim your mug (or use one of those Irish Whiskey glasses) with sugar.  Pour in 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier, 1/2 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream (or Kahlua), and 1/2 brandy and top with your hot chocolate.  A nice finishing touch to this is some whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa.
5)  Place an Earl Grey teabag in the pan while heating up your hot chocolate.  Just before serving, stir in a dash of vanilla.
I found some interesting variations on Rachael Ray’s site as well:
1)  Add a couple dashes of chili powder to your hot chocolate mix before you blend it with your hot water or milk.
(Note:  Here’s a recipe for another take on hot chocolate with chili seasoning – this time chili pepper and cinnamon in what they call Aztec Chili Hot Chocolate:  http://coffeetea.about.com/od/chocolaterecipes/r/aztecchoc.htm )
2)  Stir in a little bit of mashed banana or orange zest or a spoonful of creamy peanut butter.
3)  Stir your hot chocolate with a candy cane (we do this all the time but for an extra touch, I like to drip the end of the candy cane into chocolate and then some candy sprinkles.)
My favourite Hot Chocolate recipe:
11 cups powdered milk
16 oz. (regular sized package) mini marshmallows
12 oz. mini chocolate chips
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 cups non-dairy creamer like Coffeemate (use plain or for some yummy varieties, use one of the flavoured creamers like hazelnut or French vanilla)
1 1/2 cups cocoa
2 boxes instant chocolate pudding
Use 3 T. of mix per mug of hot water or milk.
This makes a large batch and makes for a lovely gift.  I like to put it in a jar or a mug (depending on whether it’s a single gift or for a family) and attach candy canes to it to use as stirrers. There are several poems available on the internet generally referring to this as Snowman Soup.  Here’s the one I used to attach to the jar/mug:
Was told you’ve been really good this year
I’m always glad to hear it!
With snowy weather drawing near,
You’ll need to warm your spirit.
So here’s a little Snowman Soup,
Complete with stirring stick,
Add hot water, drink it slow,
It’s sure to do the trick!
These sites have cute printable tags with the Snowman Soup poems on them:
This site has a couple other variations on the poem with printable tags:
I also love white hot chocolate (ok, honestly, I like ANYTHING white chocolate!).  Here’s my favourite recipe for it:
2 cups grated white chocolate or white chocolate chips
1 pkg. instant white chocolate pudding mix
2 tsp. vanilla powder
Use about 1/8 cup of this mix with 6-8 oz. of hot milk.  I find it best to heat the milk in a small pan and then whisk in the mix until melted.  It is not advisable to use water with this hot chocolate mix.
Brown Sugar Hot Chocolate recipe:  http://coffeetea.about.com/od/chocolaterecipes/r/browncocoa.htm
A combination of hot chocolate and coffee with an orange twist:
White Chocolate Coffee:
White Peppermint Hot Chocolate:
Eggnog Hot Chocolate:
Maple Hot Chocolate:
A white hot chocolate that you can make for a crowd in your slow cooker:
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