Foodie Sips Hot Chocolate

In my part of the world, it’s autumn. This time of the year and all through winter, we like to drink hot chocolate. I like mine from scratch (naturally). It’s easy to mix up a batch from a container of baking cocoa, sugar (or your choice of sweetener), and milk.

This time of year, we’re often found around campfires in our own back yards or that of a friend. Think “s’mores.” Think “roasted marshmallows on a stick.” Think “hot chocolate with roasted marshmallows.”

Think in a different vein.

If candy manufacturers can add a twist to their chocolate confections, why not do the same to your cup of hot chocolate? I like chocolate with raspberries or cherries. I’m game for just about anything when it comes to chocolate. Try some homemade cocoa and give it a little zip with one of these suggestions.

Caramel: A tablespoon of caramel sauce can do wonders for hot chocolate. Spoon in your favorite brand and give it a good stir right before you take your first sip.

Cinnamon, Nutmeg or Vanilla extract: A 1/4 teaspoon of any of these always adds zip.

Orange Zest: Carve three 2-inch long strips of orange rind (the skin) and let them steep in your drink for a while before tasting. That citrus flavor is a delight.

Espresso or Coffee: You can either add a tablespoon of fresh-brewed coffee or espresso, or you can use the instant stuff.

Peppermint Stick: Drop a peppermint stick or even one of those peppermint candies you picked up at your last restaurant visit. It adds great flavor, and a great smell. This version is nice if you’ve got a cold. Peppermint also calms an upset tummy.

Peanut Butter: If you’re crazy for peanut butter, take a tablespoon or two and mix it into your cocoa. Just be sure to mix well until it melts.

Habanero Pepper or a Shot of Hot Sauce: Got a hankering for something hot and spicy? A dash of your favorite hot sauce kicks a hot chocolate into high gear. You can even drop in 2 fresh slices of a fresh Habanero pepper into your cocoa and stir the flavor in. I like hot sauce, but admit this choice isn’t for the faint of heart.

Hot Cherries: Nearly everyone has that jar of maraschino cherries sitting in the fridge, so drop two or three teaspoons of the juice into your drink, along with a cherry. It tastes like drinking a chocolate cordial.

Coconut Milk: Put a tropical spin on your hot chocolate by substituting some of the milk required with a 1/4 cup of coconut milk.

Maple Syrup: It’s not just for waffles and pancakes! A squirt of the unique taste of pure maple syrup livens up ordinary hot chocolate.

If you’re interested in making a single cup of cocoa for yourself, Epicurious has a recipe for that.

Make your own hot chocolate mix to have on hand whenever you want a cup. The Pioneer Woman has a recipe which is easy and makes a really creamy concoction you can share as gifts.

So, cozy up in your chair or in front of the fireplace with a nice cup of chocolate. Boy, I think I’ll go make a cup right now.


Chocolate is Good for You!

keep calm eat dk choc

Raise your hand if you think of chocolate as a food group.

I thought so.

Chocoholics make up a big section of the population, say…anywhere, I’m guessing. At one time, we felt guilty about our indulgences. But now, scientific studies say that a little bit of the delectable stuff is good for us. They say dark chocolate is the best.

That was good news to me. I like chocolate with muscle.

A Facebook friend of mine recently posted an invitation to the Traverse City Chocolate Festival later this month. I traveled on over to their page and the graphic for their cover photo made my mouth water.

We Michiganians first think of Traverse City as the Cherry Capital of the state. They even celebrate that food group with a cherry festival at harvest time. And if you like flavored coffee, you really should try the Traverse City cherry flavored brew. Mmmmm.

“You Never Know What You’ll Get”

If you hadn’t figured it out by now, today’s Feature For Friday is about food and more specifically, chocolate. Chocolate kisses, peanut butter cups, hot cocoa, fudge, hot fudge, German chocolate cake, and chocolate chip cookies. You can almost smell it, can’t you?

While planning this post, I went “shopping” for some recipes that include chocolate. One of the blogs I follow introduced me to Cocoa and Chai Spice Tea. When I clicked on the link, I thought I’d find a recipe for Chai with chocolate. No. It was a plug for Mr. Henry Landon’s product.

Since I make my own chai tea, I decided to adapt it and came up with a recipe that I’m sharing at the end of this post. I’m not averse to tweaking my own recipes if it means saving money and coming up with something new and improved.

Chocolate certainly improved it. Now it tastes like a chai tea cocoa. Mmmmm.

Included here are some of the chocolate goodies I found. One is a recipe I’ve had in my kitchen for years and wanted to share so I intentionally went in search of it.

Bustling Around the Kitchenchocolate-whisk

Try these No-Bake Chocolate Almond Bars for a healthy breakfast treat. I know the name sounds decadent, but they’re chock full of good stuff.

Fabulously Flawless Fudge is a tried and true recipe I’ve made for years, especially at Christmas. Way back when I made it on the stove top and it still can be made that way if you prefer. This one instructs you to melt the chocolate and milk in the microwave. It really is hard to ruin this one.

Another chocolate confection that would work for people who like a baked treat in the morning or with lunch are these Moist Chocolate Muffins.

Finally, I have to plug my own “famous” chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. I shared this recipe a while back. I have never had anyone say, “Well, these aren’t very good.” Not to my face anyway. In fact, I take them to the guys who change my oil and now I have a reputation as The Cookie Lady.

That can’t be all bad.

So celebrate the cocoa bean and everything it’s brought us. Indulge on April 26, in honor of the Chocolate Festival and don’t feel the least bit guilty. God gives us all good things to enjoy.

Besides, you know chocolate is good for you.heart dripping chocolate


Chocolatey Chai Spice Tea

1 tablespoon cocoa powder
Three teaspoons sugar (or to taste)
1/2 c. boiling water
1 1/2 c. more water
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
8 cardamom pods
3/4 c. milk
4 teaspoons unperfumed loose black tea or 4 tea bags

Begin by dissolving in a sauce pan the cocoa powder and sugar in boiling water. Add rest of water to mixture. Add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and cardamom pods and bring to a boil.

Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for ten minutes. Add milk and bring to a simmer again. Throw in loose tea or tea bags. Cover, and turn off heat. After a couple of minutes, strain the mixture and serve immediately.

Yields about two mugs of tea. May be scaled up for more. (If using loose tea, it helps to use a tea ball if you have one.)