Another epiphany came recently when a “healthy” (not necessarily a title I’d give myself) friend pointed out that all store-bought hot chocolate (even my favorite Stephens) has hydrogenated oils in them, a.k.a. trans fat. I was so annoyed! I’ve looked at the labels of every hot chocolate brand I can find since then, but I haven’t come across one that’s managed to leave that ingredient out (try to find one … I dare you). So, here are two recipes that you can make yourself. The “gourmet” version is only good fresh, but it’s outstanding and very addictive … so consider yourself warned. The “everyday” version is one you can make ahead of time and have on hand when the little ones come in from playing in the cold (I would say snow but we rarely get any of that in Tennessee).
Gourmet Hot Chocolate & Popcorn ~ Made By You! (she: Rebecca)
This is Mariel’s sister-in-law/beard man’s sister back for another post. I don’t know how Mariel continues to come up with such great posts! I’m constantly racking my brain and trying to think of fun ideas to add to this dynamic blog, but I rarely come up with any. However, I recently had a brainstorm of something fun I could share with all of you … how to make your own “gourmet” hot chocolate and popcorn. It’s perfect for your New Year’s party!
Not only will these recipes create mouth-watering treats, they are much healthier than the store-bought versions. My 3 1/2 year-old and 21-month-old little girls can’t get enough of both hot chocolate and popcorn. There have been some “reports/rumors” going around about some harmful chemicals in microwave popcorn. My girls would eat this daily if they could, so I decided that any chemical in small amounts should be avoided. I also get a little boost of ego when I’m able to make something at home that’s better than what you can get in a store. And I promise the recipe below will not disappoint! It comes from a wise, older friend of mine here in Tennessee who knows her food. Try it; you’ll love it!
½ cup olive oil
½-1 teaspoon chili oil (look for it in the Asian section)
1 cup Orville Redenbachers popcorn
Cabot Cheddar Shake or parmesan
Heat the olive oil and chili oil in a large pot with a lid. The chili oil will give the popcorn a definite kick, so add less if you’re not a fan of hot (as in spicy). Add the popcorn and put the lid on. Shake the pot once or twice to make sure most of the kernels pop. Dump the popped popcorn into a large bowl and sprinkle with sea salt and “Cabot’s Shaker Cheese,” if you can find it (sold mostly in the Northeast or online), or Parmesan if you can’t. Enjoy!
½ cup heavy cream
4 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
4 Tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon sugar (try using maple syrup)
2½ ounces bittersweet chocolate 70-75% cacao (chopped)
Large pinch of kosher salt
5 cups whole milk
Heat the cream, cocoa and sugar in a medium pot. Slowly add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the salt and milk and heat to desired temperature. My friend also recommended adding Postum or Pero to the mix for a nice rich flavor. You could also add almond and/or vanilla extract. NOTE: The recipe is also still very good if you only have 1-2% milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips. There are so many different things you can make this recipe your own. It’s good regardless of what you do to it!
And finally, here’s a recipe you can whip up ahead of time and store in an airtight container for quick cups of homemade hot cocoa:
EVERYDAY HOT CHOCOLATE
2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup sugar
½ cup cocoa
½ cup powdered non-dairy creamer
Combine all the ingredients and mix in a large bowl, blend well. This will make about 16 servings. To make a single serving, combine 1/4 cup of the mix with 3/4 cup hot water.
There you go, healthy (or at least “healthier) and tasty treats to help get you through the winter (I love winter by the way, so don’t take that as a complaint!!!).