Keely’s Hot Cocoa
Lately it’s been really cold outside; like “I don’t want to leave bed because I’m under 4 fleece blankets with my 2 purring space heaters on top” cold. But alas, I must go to work, teach students, and attempt to be a productive member of society while Tchai and Roz stay snuggled in bed. Sometimes during the winter, I wish I could trade places with the kitties…though I’m not sure I’d like the same kibble for breakfast every morning or not being able to open doors…
Anyway, when it’s this frigid outside I crave something warm and chocolatey, like hot cocoa. Cocoa is so simple, satisfying, and a cinch to make from scratch (you can be sure there are no Swiss miss packets in this house). Instead of having a whole container of dry mix hanging around in the pantry, I make this drink by the cup. I don’t feel like cocoa is arduous enough to warrant pre-mixing and really there’s not enough storage space for such things in my kitchen.
The ingredients for cocoa couldn’t be easier; just some sort of dairy, sugar, and cocoa powder. For the dairy I use a combination of whole milk and heavy cream. I love the extra weight and richness the cream brings; it makes the whole thing more filling and more like a dessert. A quick reminder: never let your milk and cream come to a full boil, it will develop an unappetizing skin. Just look for little bubbles to appear around the wall of your saucepan to know you’re cocoa is ready.
I tried a few different flavor pairings when putting together my hot cocoa recipe. The traditional vanilla extract was nice but it didn’t knock my socks off. I thought bourbon would be the way to go, but it was a little too boozy for my taste. Finally, I found perfection when I added a splash of Cointreau to my mug of molten chocolate. The citrusy orange liqueur adds a depth of flavor that plays beautifully off the cocoa, making the whole thing even more decadent. I’d suggest using a really good orange liqueur as some of the cheaper ones end up being too sugary.
Once the chocolatey brew has made it into a mug, top it with whatever you like and serve immediately. Some orange zest speckled whipped cream would be lovely, or you could try a few chocolate shavings. My inner 8 year requires that my cup of hot cocoa be completely covered in mini marshmallows, and should I really deny that inner child? Once you’ve topped your cocoa, the only thing left to do is find a cozy spot (maybe with a few blankets) and drink in the deliciousness.
Keely’s Hot Cocoa
(makes 1- 12 ounce cup….or you could share)
1 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Good Orange Liqueur (I used Cointreau)
Mix together the milk and heavy cream in a small sauce pan and place on the stove on medium heat. Once the milk is scaled (little bubbles form around the wall of the pot and the mixture is steaming) whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Once everything is thoroughly mixed, removed the pot from the heat and stir in the orange liqueur. Pour the cocoa into your favorite mug and enjoy!