We all know that I have an unhealthy obsession with Halloween, but don't think that means that Christmas gets forgotten. As we speak, I'm mentally designing the Christmas version of my Halloween felt pillows and deciding what kind of wreath to hang on the front door.
Meanwhile, I am doing the best I can to sneak in some Christmas before December officially hits without anyone getting upset. Ikea is selling the most darling Christmas decorations this year, including a cardboard tree that you know I snatched up and stuck in my office. My boss was kind enough to snap this photo of me mid-rant about how cute my happy little Christmas tree was. (Yes, I know I'm eight.)
Christmas music is also a staple during most of my activities - getting ready in the morning, studying, driving, working. In fact, Michael Buble is serenading me as I type, and he'll definitely be home for Christmas, if you know what I mean.
One of my favorite things about Christmas is the abundance of hot chocolate. Nothing is better than showing up to work with cold little fingers and fixing a nice big cup of cocoa to warm you up. Likewise, I am a huge fan of snuggling up to a good movie with some delicious cocoa. Throw the boyfriend into the mix and it sounds like the best winter night I could imagine.
After Thanksgiving dinner with Brady's family and my own, he decided to brave Wal-Mart for Black Friday. I, being the sane person that I am, told him that he took a one way trip to crazy town and that I would not be joining him. Instead, I did what I love to do most and snuggled up with some hot chocolate.
No hot chocolate mix.
It was the worst feeling. Not even one little packet! Swiss Miss was nowhere to be found! The roommates didn't even have hot chocolate (at least none that I could find). I almost gave up. But then I remembered - hot chocolate mix didn't always exist. My mother used to make hot cocoa for us on the stovetop, using real cocoa instead of the storebought packets. If she could do it, so could I, right?
I scoured Pinterest for a good homemade hot chocolate recipe, but didn't have much luck. Most of the recipes that I found were for homemade hot cocoa mixes rather than a recipe that just made the stuff right then and there. After some thorough searching, it dawned on me to check the package of my cocoa powder for a recipe - and that's where I found the recipe for the best hot chocolate you will ever have. And I'm about to share it with you!
Here's what you'll need:
Cocoa - if you have the good stuff, go ahead and use it. I keep Hershey's on hand so that's what went into the pot for me (nothing too fancy for my poor college student budget).
First step to stellar homemade hot chocolate is making your own chocolate syrup! It's easier than it sounds. Throw your cocoa, sugar, and some hot water into a saucepan on your stove. Stir all this up and bring it to a boil, then let it boil for about two minutes. Make sure you're constantly stirring so your syrup doesn't burn and stick to your pan. It's not scary, I promise! My hands were busy stirring, though, so I didn't get to snap a picture of what this should look like. But just watch the clock and after two minutes, move on to the next step.
The recipe on the cocoa says to add 4 cups of milk, but I happened to have some whipping cream on hand so I figured "what the heck!" and decided to substitute half of the milk for cream. I promise you if you do this, you won't be disappointed! Use the whole carton (Remember, one pint equals two cups. Thank you, high school foods class for making me remember those conversions!) and add your milk to the saucepan, and heat that stuff up!
You won't want to boil this mixture again, just get it hot enough to be "hot" chocolate. I stop before it gets too hot so I don't have to wait for it to cool to drink it. (I know, I'm sneaky.) Then, add some vanilla and voila! You're about to taste the nectar of the gods. You won't even know what to do with yourself after you've made your own hot chocolate. I don't think I can ever go back to Stephens or that little Swiss Miss, no matter how good her mini marshmallows are.
I added some homemade whipped cream I had left over from Thanksgiving pies and went straight to liquid chocolate heaven.
Stellar Stove-top Hot Chocolate
Makes 6 servings
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup hot water
2 cups milk
2 cups whipping cream
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Mix sugar, cocoa and hot water in a saucepan.
2. Stir cocoa mixture and heat until mixture boils; boil and stir for 2 minutes.
3. Stir in milk and whipping cream and heat. Be careful not to boil this mixture!
4. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
5. Add some whipped cream, sip and enjoy!