Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate
In the frigid days of winter almost nothing tastes as delicious as a cup of hot chocolate.

As early as 500 BC, the Mayans drank chocolate made from ground-up cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal and chili peppers...a much different version from the hot chocolate of today.

Hot cocoa comes from a powder, while hot chocolate is made from chopped bits of chocolate or small pellets that are melted very slowly and then blended with milk, cream or water. Marshmallows and whipped cream are classic add-ins. The lightness and creaminess created by melted marshmallows or whipped cream balances the richness of the chocolate perfectly.

Because of the hectic world we live in, I do not often take the time or go to the trouble of making hot cocoa from scratch. A hot chocolate K-Cup popped into my Keurig machine suits me just fine; but to make it taste more gourmet, I add a dollop of Cool or Reddi-wip and savor the flavor.

For those of you more adventurous, here are some add-ins that you might want to try. I found these on Mental Floss in an article was written by Meredith Danko.
  1. PEANUT BUTTER...just add a few dollops of regular, creamy peanut butter into thesaucepan with the hot chocolate.
  2. NUTELLA...For a hazelnut flavor, mix some Nutella into the saucepan. This goes best with a whipped cream garnish.
  3. MAPLE SYRUP... For a New England twist, add a couple of teaspoons of maple syrup and a pinch of nutmeg.
  4. CINNAMON...A teaspoon is all it takes to create a delicious mixture of cinnamon hot chocolate.
  5. OREOS... You'll need a food processor or a blender to chop up 4 Oreos until they are the texture of sugar. Add to the hot chocolate mix. Then top your cup with whipped cream and more crushed Oreos.
  6. PEPPERMINT...For a batch of peppermint hot chocolate, all it takes is 3 drops of peppermint oil and a pinch of salt.
  7. GINGER... To make hot cocoa taste like gingerbread, add one small piece of ginger, 10 cloves and 2 cinnamon sticks while cooking.
  8. CHILI POWDER... If you really want to spice up the beverage, whip up a batch of Mexican hot chocolate. Add a little ground cinnamon and a pinch of chili powder.
  9. CHERRY...For a full batch of hot chocolate to taste like cherry, add a few tablespoons of Maraschino cherry juice.
  10. BOOZE...Many types of alcohol go well in hot chocolate. Some options are: Brandy, Kahlua, Peppermint Schnapps, Raspberry Liqueur, Tequila, Amaretto, Bailey's Irish Crème and even red wine.

The possible combinations are endless, so experiment and have fun. But remember, if cooking is not your thing, and you don't have a Keurig, there's always Swiss Mix.

Until my next inspiration...ciao.


Hot Chocolate Photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash

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