Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hot Chocolate

Alright, I know that something about the cold weather makes me want to post about hot beverages of some kind. But... I just... want to. So here we go again. :-D

So far, I've blogged about tea (sort of) and about cider, and now I'm gonna post about hot chocolate. Get ready for it: It's going to be an awesome post. Complete with awesome pictures. As per-usual.

There is something about cuddling with a cup of hot cocoa on a cold day that nothing can beat. I know this from experience. If you have not yet experienced it, make it a goal to do so. It's a priceless thing to enjoy. I recommend sharing it with a friend or a good book.

Now, I can talk about how good hot cocoa is, how soothing it can be, and how much I love it till I turn blue in the face... but until you can relate to what I'm saying, you won't really get any enjoyment out of these thoughts.

I can tell you that it's awesome, amazing, and beyond wonderful... but. Have you ever tried a truly amazing cup of cocoa, or is what you've had in the past been (basically) a good deal closer to a cup of hot, chocolate-flavored sugar? If this is case... I pity you. ...And I'm here today to save the day! If I were a super hero, you might call me Super-De-Duper Chocolate Recipe Woman because (dun dunna na)-- Here it is! The recipe you've been waiting for!

Or kind of, anyway. I don't really have a recipe. This is one of those things that you make to suit you-- so I can tell you what to put in it, but you're gonna have to be the taste tester here. Make this cup the best cocoa you've ever had.

To start off, you're gonna need a Smile.

A big, huge smile that begins inside of you. The kind that creeps up out of your chest and makes your face explode into an enormous picture of happiness. If there's anything that I know about cooking, it's that every recipe needs a smile and little bit of laughter to come out just right. And when your recipe is a vague as this one, you need extra happiness. So get ready for it. Muster up some glee.

Next you'll need to choose the perfect Mug.

Choose a cuddly mug. A chubby, cuddly one. This is my best advice. When it comes to mug-choosing, that is.

Then you're going to have to find yourself some Milk.

This ingredient is best when it is NOT low fat. If you're going to have hot chocolate, you might as well make it the best it can be. Load up on the fat here-- get yourself some fat milk (alright, not that fat, 2% will do just fine), and measure the milk by filling up the mug you have chosen and pouring it into a heavy bottomed saucepan.

Now you're gonna need some Chocolate.

Most people, when making their own hot chocolate, use cocoa powder and sugar. But not I! I recommend some good semi-sweet chocolate (chopped, if it's not already in small pieces). Semi-sweet chocolate is already sweetened, but it is not too sweet. On its own, it will sweeten your chocolate to be just right. Throw some of this in there, and begin to heat the milk (not on a very high temperature, as milk burns easily). Make sure to whisk this mixture almost constantly.

While your milk and chocolate are beginning to warm up, find yourself a bit of leftover Coffee.

An no, that doesn't mean coffee beans. Use the pre-brewed stuff. ;) Coffee, I have found enhances the flavor of chocolate. Don't use too much, as it can easily overpower the chocolate taste. Just dump a bit in there to make the chocolate extra rich and especially special.

Now, keep whisking. You don't want your chocolate to burn. While it is heating, the chocolate will begin to soften and break up. Now your hot (or warm, as the case may be) chocolate will begin to look speckled because the little pieces of semi-sweet chocolate are breaking up and distributing throughout the milk. Don't worry about this-- it takes a while to finally dissolve smoothly, but the wait (and the whisking) is well worth it.

Then, finally, at some point (either near the beginning, or right at the end), add a tiny bit of Vanilla.

Vanilla gives the chocolate a smooth, soothing taste. Don't go crazy on how much you add-- a few drops will do the trick.

Now, pour the finished product back into your mug of choice. You might have a little more than your mug can carry (due to the coffee, etc.), but no matter. You can always go back for seconds! :D

Enjoy! With all your might! If you can't find a friend to drink this with, grab a teddy bear or something. You need company. Someone needs to witness this wonderfulness and the pleasure it gives you.

Smile it up, yo!

Oh, and some randomness--

I love red rubber boots on rainy days. I feel that I want some. :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Sweetest Things

I keep thinking about this blog and all of the things that I wish I could be out there doing, taking pictures of doing, and then posting about doing. I keep wishing that I had a better camera so that I could better capture the "Little Bits of Happiness" in my life-- which I could then post on here.


Time is marching on, and I keep marching with it. I guess I haven't been taking much time to think about stopping for a moment. Instead, I keep thinking about what's coming up next and how I'm going to keep going.

In fact, that's what I was doing just now. I got on here, thought about my blog, dismissed the thought, and then planned to go to bed. So that I could get up tomorrow and work. And then go to bed again. Etc, etc.


Then I got an idea. I've often thought about (and still think about) writing a book. It would be a book about food, of course (what else would I write about)... but it would also be a book about people, and the little things we love. Things like desserts, tea, parties (with tea), chubby children eating cookies, etc. I think I would call it, "The Sweetest Things."

Aside from cakes, cookies, and chocolates, there are many sweet things in my life. And while I brainstorm and think about what I want for "my book," I think I'll post some of them for you to look at right now. I don't have to be globe trotting and taking pictures to write a good post. These are just the kinds of things I want on here, and while Google is still accessible, by golly... I'm gonna put 'em on here.

Many of the sweetest things in my life are little things-- walks on a crisp, fall day, hot chocolate and ice skating in the winter, puddle jumping and cherry blossoms in the spring, and ice cream and strawberries in the summer. Then of course there are the people I love-- who are with me through all four seasons every year, teaching me, encouraging me, and making me laugh. And then there are babies. Who arrive every once in a while just to melt the hearts of adults around into pools of bliss.

What are some of your "Sweetest Things"? :)