As a kid, my best friend’s mom would greet us with hot chocolate after school on days when there was a fresh snowfall. It was a small but heartwarming gesture that seemed all the more magical because she actually made hot cocoa in a pan on the stovetop, and didn’t just open a packet of Swiss Miss. Hers was made with the good-old tin of Hersey’s cocoa, but here’s a couple other ideas to keep the tradition going, no matter how late everyone’s day ends.
Mexican Hot Chocolate, made by heating milk with a Mexican sweet chocolate like the Ibarra brand. You’ll usually find it on a bottom shelf in the international aisle at the grocery, its trademark red-and-yellow hexagonal box looking somewhat dusty and forlorn. Don’t be discouraged by outward appearances. And don’t be dismayed that the wrapped chocolate wafers inside look a bit the same. This is a different animal than the glossy, shiny chocolate bars we’re used to. The chocolate wafers are blended with cinnamon and a coarse sugar, so the mixing is done for you. But the true magic of a Mexican Hot Chocolate is the froth. After the milk is heated, whip it with an immersion or regular blender to a heady frothiness that makes it seem all the more creamy. Can’t find Mexican chocolate? Try adding some cinnamon and a bit of chile powder (cayenne or ancho chile powder work well) to your regular hot chocolate.
Or, for an adult treat by the fireplace, try a Hot White Chocolate. It’s a great way to use up some of those white chocolate chips that are hanging around from the holidays. For a variation, swap out the vanilla vodka with regular and add some peppermint extract.
Then sit back and let it snow.