Seasonal Treats: Hot Cocoa

hot-chocolateCool weather is on the way, and in just a few weeks we’ll be feeling the first kiss of winter.

One of the best things about winter is waking up on a chilly morning under a bed of flannel sheets and a down blanket, and curling up with a cup of hot chocolate.  Growing up that was usually one of the larger brands like Swiss Miss, but below are a few organic, fair-trade certified brands that you might be interested in trying.

Lake Champlain – A Vermont based company.

Dagoba – Keep in mind that Dagoba has been bought out by Hershey when purchasing.

Equal Exchange

Trader Joe’s Conacado Organic Fair Trade Cocoa – Apparently loved by many, but I have not tried it myself.

Make your own

An alternative to purchasing organic hot chocolate, is to make your own with organic ingredients.  Try a few of these recipes (personally I am partial to actual chocolate instead of powder, but I’m providing one of each):

Parisan Warm Chocolate:

Ingredients:

* 1 cup whole milk
* 1/3 heavy cream
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preparation:
Simmer the milk, cream and sugar together until just boiling. Stir in the chocolate until melted. Don’t let it boil. Serve warm in demitasse cups.

Creamy Hot Chocolate:

Ingredients:

* 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 1 pinch salt
* 1/3 cup boiling water
* 3 1/2 cups milk
* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup half-and-half cream

Preparation
Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn’t scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.

Personal Tip: Try adding a chai teabag (I used Stacks in the past) to the hot chocolate mix.  You’ll swear it tastes like Christmas.

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