If You’re Looking for Me, I’ll Just Be Right Here Under this Mountain of Whipped Cream

When the Mr and I got married, I think he underestimated how much I like hot chocolate. His mother did not. She once gave me a massive canister of Starbucks’ Hot Cocoa mix as part of my birthday gift. Bless her! She knew the way to this girl’s heart…

I take full advantage in winter, whether it’s cold or not, to have any excuse to make hot chocolate/cocoa/mochas. Recently, I tried something a little different when making hot chocolate. I had the ingredients on hand for Joy of Cooking‘s Spiced Hot Chocolate so I took the time to play while my coffee maker parts were in the dishwasher.

Recipe: Heat 1/2c half & half in a saucepan until just barely bubbling (about 130-140°). Whisk in 1oz (2 full tablespoons) chocolate of your choice (off the heat). Stir in a peeled & sliced 1in knob of fresh ginger, 6-8 whole cloves (slightly crushed), and 2 whole cinnamon sticks. Cover and set aside for 30min. After, strain out the solids and return to heat until just bubbling (about 140°). Top generously with whipped cream.

Steeping whole, fresh spices for a half hour imparts a mellower, yet deeper, spice flavor that blends in better with the other ingredients. When you add dried, ground seasonings; it can bestow a bolder bite (also you may wind up with unpleasant grit at the bottom of your cup). Sometimes that’s ok, but if you have access to fresh ingredients, it’s well worth it to use them.

This recipe admittedly has a few more steps making it less likely to be followed on the regular. Sometimes though, when you have a few extra moments, enjoy a little time developing flavors.

What is your favorite fall/winter beverage of choice?

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