Looking For the Perfect Winter-Weather Treat? Have Some Cocoa!

January 27th, 2011

The holidays might be over but winter isn’t, which means this is the perfect time to treat yourself to something unique like a cup of gourmet cocoa! There are so many ways to jazz up the classic cocoa and marshmallow combo. Hot chocolates are the perfect vehicle for not only warm fragrant spices — from cinnamon and nutmeg to cardamom, allspice and cloves — but also for pungent spices such as smoky chipotle chilies. My Cha Cha Hot Chocolate Mix combines chipotle chili powder, cinnamon and a touch of ground coriander and guarantees to warm you up quickly… an extra little kick of heat can’t go astray in the middle of winter!

I’d be remiss to not mention the opportunity to spice up your cocoa in a more libacious way. Frangelico and raspberry liqueur are the stars of my Grown-Up Nutty White Chocolate Raspberry Cocoa. Rich and creamy, this decadent alternative to plain cocoa makes a perfect after-dinner indulgence. Add some white chocolate whipped cream and there’s no need to serve up anything but this for dessert at your next dinner party.

Of course, I wouldn’t forget the purists out there! My go-to classic is My Mom’s “Old-School” Cocoa. This is the one that brings back my childhood memories: Mom warming milk over the stove in a pan and whisking in the Hershey’s cocoa… it doesn’t get cozier than that! This is also the perfect base to try experimenting with your own blends of cocoa and spices. Go ahead and get creative with your ingredients and your toppings. A little jar of your own signature cocoa mix is a perfect anytime gift, too.

So whether you’re a fan of the classic hot chocolate or want to jazz up your cocoa with some fun spices or liqueur, grab your favorite mug and head to the kitchen to mix up a cozy winter treat!
-Kathy

Cha Cha Hot Chocolate Mix
This is a fun twist on classic cocoa and the mix can be made and stored so you always have this spicy little treat on hand!
Makes 2 cups, enough for 10 to 12 servings

1 1/2 cups superfine or baker’s sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp real vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground chipotle chili powder
3/4 tsp ground coriander

In a medium bowl, combine the sugars and vanilla extract together with a whisk. Then add the remaining ingredients and whisk thoroughly to evenly distribute the cocoa and spices.

Store at room temperature for up to a month in a clean glass jar with a tight lid. Shake thoroughly before using to remix the ingredients.

To make 1 serving Cha Cha Hot Chocolate:
Place about 3 tablespoons Cha Cha Hot Chocolate Mix, or to taste, in a mug and add three-quarter cups hot milk, mixing well.

©2008 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Grown-Up Nutty White Chocolate Raspberry Cocoa
Talk about a deluxe treat; this cocoa combines rich white chocolate and raspberry liqueur for an after-dinner (or any time!) dessert!
Serves 4

3 cups milk
2/3 cup high-quality white chocolate chips or broken white chocolate bar
6 tablespoons raspberry liqueur*
6 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
Garnish: White Chocolate Cream, optional**

Additional garnishes can include shaved white chocolate, chopped toasted hazelnuts and fresh raspberries, or gourmet marshmallows*** or raspberry marshmallows instead of the whipped cream.

Fill serving cups with very hot water to warm them while you start the cocoa.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until warmed. Add the white chocolate chips and whisk until melted. Add the liqueurs and heat mixture until hot, but not over 140 degrees.

Pour the hot water out of the cups and fill with the cocoa. Top with dollops of White Chocolate Cream and garnish.

Chef’s Notes:
*Be sure to use a high-quality raspberry liqueur or imported raspberry or berry liqueur as many raspberry schnapps-style liqueurs are high in acid and will curdle the milk.
**To make White Chocolate Cream: Place 1/3 cup heavy cream in a small bowl and whisk vigorously until soft peaks are just beginning to form. Add 1 tablespoon white crème de cacao liqueur and whisk until peaked.
***Gourmet handmade marshmallows are carried in the bakery department of upscale grocers.

©2008 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

My Mom’s “Old-School” Cocoa
This is the quintessential classic hot chocolate – a warm, delicious, easy-to-make chocolate fix!
Serves 2

1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 big marshmallows

Place milk in a small heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and sugar, then whisk into the milk to incorporate. Add vanilla and heat until hot but not overheated. Do not boil. Serve in mugs and top with marshmallows

©2008 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Entry Filed under: appetizers,dessert,other,Recent Posts,Snacks

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