By Christy Milan
The holidays are upon us and the temperatures have dropped leaving us with the task of warming ourselves inside and out. Hot Chocolate can warm you up and give you a delicious way to do it. The rich creamy drink can be served with delightful flavor combinations. Some of the flavorings include pumpkin spice, peppermint, vanilla, hazelnut, cinnamon and caramel. So make yourself a delicious hot chocolate, grab your blanket and cuddle up to a cozy fire to help bring in the season.
Before heading off to the kitchen, you may be asking yourself the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa. Hot cocoa is a thin, sweetened drink made from cocoa powder, sugar and milk and may contain flavorings. The drink is less rich and sweeter than hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is usually made with shaved chocolate, milk and cream. Both are easily made at home. However the quality of ingredients determines the taste of this favorite wintertime beverage. Be sure to consider this before making your warm chocolate treat.
Whichever chocolate drink you prefer, adding flavors to this delightful drink can turn the warm goodness into a tasty treat on a cold winter night. Adding flavorings also provides more variations to use throughout the season. Some of these ingredients provide an aromatic, soothing, savory and delectable palate. Your taste buds will be pleasantly surprised and delighted. Many flavorings can be used from common items found in the cupboards or spice racks. Flavorings like pecan, almond and Irish cream are just a few that could add a different essence. Your local store may carry some however Olivenation.com has many to choose from if you want to create a chocolate masterpiece. They even carry a bacon flavoring if you love bacon!
A great way to celebrate the season is to host a hot chocolate bar. Make a festive table and supply it with all the ingredients needed. Whipped cream, marshmallows and slivers of chocolate are just some of the fun ingredients you can serve. Fill small bowls with flavorings or put them in a shaker bottle. A delicious aromatic cup of hot chocolate is great for parties, family gatherings, and movie night or for a little comfort on a dark winter night.
• Simmer milk with spices then add shavings of good chocolate/ cocoa mix, stir
• Play with combinations of flavors
• Cayenne Pepper (ground) – ¼ tsp
• Pumpkin Spice- ¼ tsp
• Peppermint Extract ¼ tsp
• Vanilla- ¼ tsp
• Nutmeg- ¼ tsp
• Cinnamon- ¼ tsp
• Hazelnut- ½ tsp
• Brewed Coffee- ¼ Cup
• Caramel Sauce- 1 Tbs Stir in well
• Orange Zest- 1-2 Tbs Zest. Steep in the milk, strain, add chocolate.
• Peanut Butter- 1 Tbs Mix in till it melts
• Almond Butter- 1 Tbs Mix well till it melts
• Coconut/Almond Milk- substitute liquid for ¼ cup.
• Cardamom Pods- Heat milk and pods over medium heat, simmer 10 min. Strain, add to drink
• Maple Syrup- 1 tsp