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Some More Hot Cocoa Please! Love, Santa

Hot Cocoa
by Carly Loving

Christmas is by far my favorite time of the year. I love the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree, listening to holiday music, the endless letters to Santa Clause, and the sweet snuggles in front of a warm fire. One of our family traditions at Christmas is to make s’mores.

In keeping with the spirit of St. Nick, we like to use peppermint bark instead of regular chocolate. That small change makes all the difference in the world, and of course there is nothing better than a homemade marshmallow. So maybe this year instead of giving Santa Clause the same old milk and cookies, you could surprise him with a warm cup of homemade hot chocolate and a s’more he will never forget!

Healthy-er hot chocolate

For a healthier, yet delicious alternative for hot chocolate try this:

Ingredients

  • 6 cups vanilla flavored unsweetened almond milk, or 6 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12 ounces white or milk chocolate,
  • chopped or broken into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon agave

Directions

  • Whisk together the almond milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a 5 quart saucepan.
  • Bring to just below over medium high heat.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add chocolate and agave.
  • Stir constantly until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, 2 minutes.
  • Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.

Homemade Peppermint Bark

I love this recipe. It’s easy and fun to do with the kids. If you want to cut the time in half, just use either white or dark chocolate-instead of both!

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Ingredients

  • Crushed candy canes, 1 cup
  • 1 pound white chocolate
  • 1 pound dark chocolate
  • Peppermint flavoring (optional, 2 teaspoons to taste)

Directions

  • Place candy canes in plastic bag and hammer into 1/4 inch chunks or smaller.
  • Melt dark chocolate in double boiler.
  • Pour mixture on to a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm.
  • Repeat melting process with white chocolate, but also combine candy canes and peppermint flavorings (if desired) to white chocolate mixture.
  • Pour mixture on top of dark chocolate and, once again, place in refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm.

Homemade Marshmallow

If you are looking for a little challenge, this is a good one. There is nothing better than a homemade marshmallow. You will need a mixer, and a candy thermometer. You can cut these up to make mini marshmallows too.

Ingredients

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Directions

  • Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.
  • Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  • Remove from heat.
  • With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin.
  • Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  • With a sieve, generously dust an 8 by 12 inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners’ sugar.
  • Pour the Marshmallow mixture into pan, smooth the top, and dust with more confectioners sugar.
  • Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.
  • Turn the Marshmallow onto a board and cut them in squares.
  • Dust them with more confectioners’ sugar.

 

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