[From Cooking From Scratch.]
Cozy new Christmas jammies, a stack of stories like “Rudolph” and “T'was the Night Before Christmas”, and steamy mugs of hot chocolate with magical melting islands of whipped cream―that's the vision, right? That's what gives you the holiday warm-fuzzies.
Let me tell you how that vision went down one year at our house.
We made a huge ceremony of opening our Christmas pajamas in early December―because I like to see my son scamper around like a cozy little elf all month―but the set my husband choose for me was...um, shall we say a bit matronly?
Trying to hide my disappointment, I headed to the kitchen to whip up a pot of hot chocolate while the boys got started reading the shiny new Christmas storybooks I'd just bought. Once the hot chocolate was ready, I put an ice cube in my son's to cool it, then took it to the table.
But apparently hot chocolate and books were too much to focus on at once. With a clumsy clatter, my son's hot chocolate went straight down the front of his cuddly new pajamas. My husband rescued the books. My son wailed―heartbroken about his spilled treat―as we stripped the wet flannel off of him and into the washer. His sobbing continued through a smaller mug of hot chocolate and a bath, and we finally―neither of us in cute Christmas jammies―sacked out into bed.
I can only share this memory because of all that I've learned from it.
The next year, there was no ceremony. There wasn't even really anything you could call a plan. I had some Mexican chocolate in the house because I happened to have used it for another recipe. My son and I both happened to be awake early―both in our usual ratty sleepwear―and I thought, “Why not?” I put his hot chocolate in a sippy cup to avoid spills.
But we did read his very favorite Christmas book, “The Polar Express”. And as I half-whispered the familiar words and we cuddled on the couch while the winter sun peeped up, well, I felt some definite holiday warm-fuzzies.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
(Mexican hot chocolate is a spicer, warmer version of its north-of-the-border cousin. It's based on Mexican chocolate, which contains extra granulated sugar and cinnamon. Abuelita is a good brand to look for, and you can find it in the international section of most of the local Dillion's stores.)
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tablet Abuelita Mexican chocolate (or approximately 3 ounces dark chocolate chips, mixed with a pinch of cinnamon and a teaspoon of sugar)
- ground cloves
- cayenne pepper
- Optional for serving: whipped cream, a cinnamon stick, additional nutmeg
Put the milk into a small pot to simmer. Chop or break up the chocolate with your hands. Add the chocolate to the milk, stirring gently until it melts. Add a small pinch of each of the spices, then whisk the hot chocolate mixture furiously to make it nice and frothy.
Pour into mugs and top with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Add a cinnamon stick and an extra sprinkle of nutmeg for garnish if you wish.
Makes two large mugs of hot chocolate, but you can easily double or triple the recipe for a larger crowd.