HO(t) HO(t) HO(t)…Chocolate!

HolidayBev-08

Pour two cups of almond, soy, or regular milk into a small saucepan and warm on the stove. As it’s heating up, add four to six tablespoons each of cocoa powder and sugar (adjust ratios of cocoa to sugar per desired chocolate/sweetness ratio), as well as a few squares of bittersweet chocolate (if you really wanna turn up, throw in a tablespoon of chocolate syrup). Whisk until frothy and all cocoa powder and sugar clumps dissolve. Serves two.

To make lavender hot chocolate: Drop three heaping tablespoons of lavender buds (you can buy culinary lavender in specialty food stores and fancy baking shops) into the milk before adding the cocoa powder and sugar. Bring the milk and lavender to a high heat (just below boiling), then turn the heat off. Allow the milk and lavender to steep for 25 minutes. Drain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Return the milk, sans lavender, to the pan, apply medium heat, and follow the hot chocolate recipe above, starting with the cocoa powder and sugar steps.

To make candy cane hot chocolate: Substitute Andes mints for the bittersweet chocolate in the hot chocolate recipe above or add a teaspoon of mint extract to the finished hot chocolate. Crush up bits of candy cane and throw ’em on top, and use a whole candy cane for stirring.

Is there a winter refreshment more ubiquitous than hot chocolate? It is warming. It makes people jolly. Santa’s all about it, and so am I. But in the spirit of topping the holiday bev game, don’t stop at chocolate. One-up the Official Beverage of Winter by adding custom flavors to your hot-chocolate base.