Homemade Hot Chocolate

The next few weeks will bring Santa Claus parades, tree-lighting celebrations, and plenty of cold, blustery nights. One of our favourite ways to warm up on these cold occasions is with a warm mug of hot chocolate.

Hot Chocolate Bar
Hot Chocolate Bar

On parade day (it’s actually parade night in our town), my girls know that I’ll have a hot chocolate bar set up and ready to go when we all return home, shivering from the cold. It takes little time to set up, yet it adds so much to the fun and festivity.

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Marshmallows, candy canes, chocolate chips, caramels, whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate covered spoons…the topping options are endless. Get creative with your toppings! While I put out marshmallows, I also added a few dipped in chocolate, and then dipped a few of those in holiday sprinkles. Easy and delicious!

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Without question, there are many instant hot chocolate mixes on store shelves these days, but the best hot chocolate is the kind you make from scratch. It’s even better when it can be made in advance and left in a crockpot so it’s ready and waiting when you come in from the cold. This recipe is perfect for just that.

So the next time someone in your house says “Can I have a hot chocolate, please?” consider throwing together a hot chocolate bar and making an occasion of it.

HOMEMADE HOT CHOCOLATE

 (makes about 10 cups)
¾ cup sugar
1 cup cocoa
1 cup chopped chocolate
1 cup hot water
8 cups milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
 

 In a medium saucepan over med/low heat, add sugar, cocoa, chocolate, and hot water.

Whisk well until the chocolate has melted. Add the milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine and heat through.

Pour the cocoa into your crockpot and leave on low or the Keep Warm setting if you have one. Enjoy when you’re ready, garnished with your favourite toppings.

Homemade Hot Chocolate
Homemade Hot Chocolate
*you can easily half this recipe for a smaller group

 

Spiced Meringues

“The ornaments of your house will be the guests who frequent it’.

AUTHOR UNKNOWN

Spiced Meringues
Spiced Meringues

One of the reasons I love the holiday season so much is the time we get to spend with family and friends creating new memories. In our house, we love nothing more than to open our doors and welcome guests for quality time spent gathered around platters of good food and drink: appetizers, beverages, and desserts of all kinds.

This weekend was no exception. Looking for an excuse to try some new recipes, I decked the halls, set the table with lanterns, ornaments, and candles in all the holiday colours, and once again opened the doors of our home to friends.

One of the many sweets on the table that delivered big flavour for little effort, were these Spiced Meringues. These crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth clouds are made with a spicy trio of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and are then dipped in dark chocolate. The flavour combination is pure Heaven as they melt in your mouth.

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They were a big hit with everyone and will no doubt be a regular guest at our future holiday celebrations.

SPICED MERINGUES

2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp water
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground nutmeg
4 egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 oz dark chocolate, melted

 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the cream of tartar, vinegar, water, and spices. Set aside.

In a glass or metal bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the spice mixture.

Transfer the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.  Pipe the meringues onto the baking sheets. Place in the oven for 3 hours or until the meringues are completely dried and peel easily off the parchment paper. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

Dip the bottom of the meringues into the chocolate. Place back on the baking sheets to allow the chocolate to set.

These will keep in an airtight container in a cool dry place, up to 3 weeks.

This recipe has been adapted from the recipe for Spiced Dried Meringues in the holiday edition of Ricardo magazine.