Real Hot Chocolate

IMG_0165

I grew up drinking hot chocolate made by adding powdered chocolate milk mix into warm milk— better than the powdered cocoa mix added to hot water but not perfect. Now these many years later, I have finally made what I consider true hot chocolate— the kind that is thick and rich, like drinking a melted chocolate bar. I am compelled to make believers out of you.

With all the snow we’ve had lately, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to make hot chocolate. I first made it with my preschool class. I pulled a recipe that looked good from Food52. It called for whole milk, semisweet chocolate, cocoa powder and sugar and it was delicious. So good, in fact, that for the first time this year every child tried it. If that wasn’t amazing enough, they all liked it, even lining up for seconds.

IMG_2338  IMG_2344

Then I made it at home using dark chocolate instead of semisweet chips and substituted skim for whole milk. Though I liked it, my kids didn’t like the bitter flavor that the dark chocolate imparted. I tried again using semisweet chips but stuck with the skim milk because that is what we always have on hand at our house. This one was a winner. And, honestly, it is not a lot more work than warming milk. So this is the recipe I will stick with to warm us up after a fun day playing in the snow.

Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

image

Start with half your milk, chocolate and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Warm this up, stirring and melting your chocolate.

image

Then add your sugar and a little salt. I added the full 8 Tbsp. sugar but I suggest trying 6 Tbsp. to start and then adding more to taste. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then add the rest of your milk.

image

Warm and enjoy. I prefer a spoonful of whipped cream in my hot chocolate but since I was all out of cream today, mini marshmallows it was. Yum!

Real Hot Chocolate

Makes about 4 mugfuls

Adapted from Food52

5 oz semisweet chocolate chips
5 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
5 cups skim milk (or whole milk for an even richer version)
6-8 Tbsp. sugar (to taste)
1/2 tsp. salt

1. In a saucepan, mix the chocolate, cocoa powder and half the milk. Warm and stir over medium-low heat. Stir often until chocolate is melted.

2. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Then add the remaining milk and taste for sugar. Heat the rest of the way through. Pour into mugs and top with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired.

Advertisements

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Squares

IMG_0088

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Squares

I have a friend who loves peanut butter. I’d say I like peanut butter–with chocolate, or on bread with some homemade jam or bananas or apples. But my friend loves peanut butter in many, many forms. So in December when I started thinking about a little gift for her, I thought I’d bake something, of course, and that something would have to have peanut butter in it. But I am a bit selfish when it comes to my baking. I don’t like to bake something unless I want to eat it too. And the only way I eat peanut butter in dessert is if it is paired with chocolate. So this led me to Chocolate-Peanut Butter Squares. They are little morsels of goodness and so easy to make I had to share.

I did say that I had these gift-giving intentions back in December. Well, I was pulled way off course in December and here I am in the second week of January still trying to catch up. Luckily, I have an understanding friend and I think these homemade treats might be even more appreciated now that the steady flow of Christmas cookies has died down. I know my kids appreciated them. They walked in the door, took a sniff and immediately asked what I had made. They begged for taste tests and heartily approved of the results. (Just heard from my friend that she had to hide a few squares so her kids didn’t eat them all.)

This recipe was passed on years ago from another friend, Suzie. I have tweaked it a bit, but the basics have remained the same. It is a simple, no-bake recipe. It takes a little muscle to coax together the sugars, butter and peanut butter. Getting the squares out of the pan takes a little effort too. You’ll need to slide a small off-set cake spatula under the squares to release the peanut butter from the pan. Other than that, this recipe is very easy and well worth the half-hour it’ll take you.

Here are the steps in pictures:

IMG_0041    IMG_0042 IMG_0044    IMG_0048

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Squares

Makes about 48 small squares  IMG_0090

7 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped or morsels
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter

1. Melt chocolates and 1 Tbsp. butter over double boiler until smooth.

2. In large bowl, stir sugars and salt together. Cut butter into dry ingredients. Add peanut butter and mix until sandy.

3. Press peanut butter mixture into bottom of a greased 9″ pan. Spread melted chocolate over peanut butter. Chill to set.

4. Use a sharp knife to slice into squares. Run a small, flexible cake spatula under the squares before lifting out of the pan. I cut and lifted out 2 rows at a time. Share and enjoy!