The first snowfall of the year is rejuvenating. This is especially true when the flakes have fallen overnight and the world has suddenly been covered in a carpet of white.
Back then, my brother and I couldn’t wait to call the neighbors over. I can still remember bringing in our two wooden toboggans from the garage and waxing them down with bars of Gulf wax.
And there was the layering of wool and cotton- only natural fibers to keep the chill out.
Soon, the backyard was full of action. The first runs were fun, but as trails were slicked and ramps were built, the speed and action increased. A few hours later, our feet were frozen and we could barely move.
For a kid, nothing says “love” like hot chocolate. Mom would serve it to us next to the fireplace in metal camp cups. Afterwords, we’d play board games or cards with Grandpa Kolb until our sugar rushes passed or the winter wonderland called us out again.
Now, years later, I’m sure it wouldn’t taste as good. It was most likely made with the industrial cocoa powder of the day. But Mom put in a little something extra – a touch of heavy cream or possibly a Hersey bar or two.
Nowadays, I opt for a darker – more bitter – brew, with some homemade marshmallows and maybe a wee shot of “something stronger.”
Once, hot drinks were a necessity; but these days, hot drinks are mostly celebratory. As adults, we enjoy spiked cocoa, mulled wine, and spiced ciders during the gray days and darker evenings of winter. Things may have changed a lot in 40 years. But it’s still a perfect way to start a long warm conversation deep into the night.
Caribbean Hot Chocolate
Yield: Makes 15 servings
- 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, melted (top quality)
- 8 cups milk
- 4 cups cream
- 2 vanilla beans, split
- 1/2 orange zest, peeled with a vegetable peeler
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon Sweet Seasons Spice Blend
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup rum, optional
- whipped cream or steamed milk
- sweet spice blend for garnish
- Heat milk and cream with the zest, cinnamon, spices and sugar just to the boiling point. Allow to sit 10-15 minutes to infuse. Strain.
- SLOWLY add to chocolate and finish with immersion blender.
- Steam with espresso machine milk steamer.
- Add a shot of rum to a hot coffee cup and top with the hot chocolate and a bit of milk foam or whipped cream from the coffee machine. Sprinkle with a little sweet spice just before serving.
This recipes uses the Sweet Seasons Spice Blend.