Yesterday we had our first signficant snowfall, and the children's thoughts immediately went to sledding ... and hot cocoa! It got me thinking -- with three of our favorite saint feast days coming up this month, why not celebrate with a little twist on hot cocoa?
First, here's a basic hot cocoa recipe, if you don't already have one. I have this long-since memorized, but it's my variation of the one I'm pretty sure you'll find on any can of Hershey's cocoa.
Basic Hot Cocoa Recipe
Pour 4 c milk into a 1-qt measuring cup. Add 1 capful (about 1/2 t) vanilla, and set aside.
Place in a medium saucepan:
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 c sugar
pinch of salt
(Save yourself some trouble, as well as the juggling of multiple small measuring cups, by making several individual batches of these dry ingredients and storing each in a small zip style plastic bag. You'll be amazed at what a time saver this can be!)
Whisk in 1/3 c hot tap water, and place over medium heat. Watch carefully and stir frequently until the mixture comes to a full boil; then continue to boil, stirring constantly, for two minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in the reserved vanilla milk. Return to the stove at a low to medium setting, until heated through.
Serve as is, or topped with marshmallows or whippped cream. Guaranteed to "warm the toe bones," as we say at our house! :) Makes four (8 oz.) servings of hot cocoa.
Now then, for the "Saintly" variations:
German Chocolate Hot Cocoa for St. Nicholas (Dec. 6)
Substitute 1/2 c. brown sugar for the granulated white sugar.
Substitute 2 c. of coconut milk for half (2 c.) of the milk in the recipe.
You can use a 15.5 oz can of coconut milk, or use this recipe for Coconut-Infused Milk:
Place 2 cups of shredded coconut in a heat-safe bowl.
Bring 2 cups of milk to a boil in a small saucepan. It will foam, then boil over very quickly, so watch carefully!
Pour over the reserved coconut, and let stand for about one hour.
Place the coconut and milk mixture into a blender, and process for about 30 seconds.
Strain into a 1-qt measuring cup, pressing the coconut to extract as much milk as possible. Discard the coconut.
Fill the measuring cup to the 4 cup mark with additional milk, then continue the basic recipe as written.
Tastes great with gingerbread cookies!
Mexican Hot Cocoa for St. Juan Diego (Dec 9) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12)
Prepare basic recipe as written; whisk in 2 t cinnamon and 1/2 t chili powder with the milk.
If desired, top with sweetened whipped cream and a few shavings of dark, sweet chocolate.
Serve with Mexican Wedding Cakes for a special treat!
Scandinavian Orange Chocolate Hot Cocoa for St. Lucy (Dec. 13)
Prepare hot cocoa as directed in the basic recipe above.
Whip 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Gently fold 2 T orange marmalade into the whipped cream.
Place a large dollop of the orange whipped cream on each serving of the hot cocoa; top with freshly-grated orange zest, if desired.
Goes exceptionally well with your favorite St. Lucy's Bread recipe!