24 February 2017

Big Likes #1: My Favorite Cocoa

I was feeling like I hit a bit of a rut this week here at the blog. It's funny how you can feel like you have lots of blog post ideas and then some days just nothing inspires you. So today I decided to start a new column of sorts called Big Likes. Big likes are things I'm really enjoying at the moment.

I was out early this morning for an appointment and I will just say that the freezing cold wind is still blowing. Ergh. So when I got home I was ready for something cozy and decided that some cocoa would really hit the spot.

Yesterday would have been my paternal grandmother's 116th birthday and she made the absolute best cocoa I have ever tasted. I learned to add salt and vanilla from her. She also made her cocoa with evaporated milk which of course was delicious. I think she mixed regular milk with the evaporated milk. It's been so long since I watched her make it as a little girl that I realize I can't quite remember anymore. That's a little bit sad. Life passes so quickly!

I generally don't make a big pot of cocoa and I'm really the only one in the family who drinks it. The Man drinks his cocoa from a water-added packet made with his Keurig machine. Ick! So I make my cocoa one cup at a time for myself.

I have been loving Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa all winter long. I love all these "Simply" products that have been coming out that use real sugar and real ingredients without all the additives. I will gladly pay the extra to support any company who is returning to a more all natural ingredients list for products that I want to use!

I love that Simply Cocoa is a "mix with real, hot milk" version. No watered down gunky cocoa for me! I want creamy and not too heavy. Last fall I found these on sale for a dollar per box so I loaded up and what a great idea that was. I had a nice supply to get me through the winter and it was there waiting for me any time I wanted something warm. I'm down to one box, so it's time to stock up soon. Here's my secret recipe:

For a large "cappuccino" size mug:
Cup full of 1% milk
1 & 1/2 packets of cocoa mix
3-5 drops of vanilla extract
dash of kosher salt

I heat the milk up in the microwave on high for 90 sections, then stir it so that the heat distributes evenly and does not curdle the milk. This time and temperature can vary from microwave to microwave. In LA, our apartment microwave could only do a minute at a time without ruining the milk so you have to experiment. I have a bunch of little whisks I use for stirring throughout my cocoa making process. I use one to stir the milk and then they are great for incorporating the cocoa powder and other ingredients.

After stirring I microwave the milk for 30 more seconds. Then I add the cocoa mix, vanilla and salt and stir it again with my cute whisk. And we're done. So yummy. You can top it off with whipped cream if you want or add cream or half and half or whatever you want. We keep a can of spray whipped cream in the fridge at all times so it's easy to create a big whipped cloud on top if I'm in the mood.

I can't tell you how happy it made me to sip a cup, all alone in my office this morning when I got home and was chilled to the bone. I turned on my little space heater and was one happy camper! I paired my cocoa up with toasted waffles topped with a yummy new preserve I picked up this week. That will be the subject of my next "Big Like."

If you want to make a big pot of delicious, rich cocoa here is a fantastic recipe. This is perfect for a party or family gathering. 

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