One of our favorite winter pleasures is having hot chocolate. It seems our Tea Time transposes during the winter into Hot Cocoa Time. In Elizabeth Foss's Real Learning, she describes how she likes to use her weekly afternoon tea time for liturgical discussions and immersing her children in their Catholic faith in a casual and comforting way. We have enlisted this wonderful tradition into our weekly school life routine and it has been such a blessing. Now that we have continual snow on the ground, the kids really enjoy having cocoa rather than tea on most occasions. So, what could be more wonderful and comforting after a day of snow play or skiing than a big mug of hot chocolate and quietly talking about our faith. I love the description in The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg,
"The train was filled with other children, all in their pajamas and nightgowns. We sang Christmas carols and ate candies with nougat centers as white as snow. We drank hot cocoa as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars..."
So for us every week we make ours extra special. This is the recipe I like best:
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups half-n-half
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 4 ounces bittersweet milk chocolate, chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon decaf instant coffee (optional for mummy)
- Homemade Marshmallows (recipe following)
Heat the milk and half-n-half in a large saucepan over medium heat to just below the simmering point. Remove the pan from heat and add both chocolates. When the chocolates are melted, stir in the sugar, vanilla, and coffee powder. Reheat gently.
These marshmallows are hands down the best I've ever had, you won't want to go back to store bought. *Note: Plan to make them the day before you want to serve them.
- 3 packages unflavored gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.
With a sieve, generously dust an 8 x 12-inch nonmetal baking dish with the confectioner's sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top and dust with more confectioner's sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.
Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them into squares. Dust them with more confectioner's sugar. Enjoy! Both recipes from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Family Style .
I hope you are able to try this at least once, savor it and enjoy some quiet chocolaty time with your children! Good Tidings!