Thursday, December 16, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas Cooking...Day 3

I'm sorry Day 3 is late. Yesterday was not a nice day and I had a lot of errands to get done. But I'll make up for it, I promise!

It's getting colder where I live. We've actually had some frozen precipitation and school closings in my area, which is pretty unusual in December. Normally, our coldest month is January. So in attempts to keep myself cozy and warm, I've been drinking lots of hot beverages like tea, hot chocolate and coffee. With that in mind, I bring you day number 3 in the 12 Days of Christmas Cooking (and drinking).
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

3 Lovely Hot Beverages!

Coffee: Red Sea Blend by Allegro Coffee

Howie, my co-host on The Geeky Gourmet and coffee guru extraodinaire, suggests the Red Sea Blend by Allegro Coffee, sold at Whole Foods Markets around the US. It's one of his favorites because it's not over-roasted, like Starbucks coffees tend to be. He says, "It's a good, solid blend that is consistent. It's as good as you're going to get on a normal basis." The company that roasts this blend describes it as a fragrant, exotic flavor with notes of cherry, strawberry, tobacco, and nutmeg. Howie also encourages you to do a little research for local places that roast their own beans and offer sample packs. That way you can try a few different varieties to decided what you like best.

Tea: Imperial Republic Snow Rose Full-Leaf Herbal Tea
This is one of my favorite teas. It comes from The Republic of Tea- an awesome company for tea enthusiasts. It's made from a native Chinese herb called Snow Rose, as well rose petals and other fragrant herbs. It's light and soothing. I've only had it a few times because it's a bit pricey at $31.00 per 3.5 ounce tin (that makes about 50 cups), but a nice treat. But in all honesty The Republic of Tea offers something for everyone. They have a wide variety of black, green, red, oolong, and herbal teas. There's even a tea of the month club and a tea blog that is full of information to help you better understand traditions and new trends in tea.

Hot Chocolate: I love them all!
Okay, I don't know that I love them all. However, I do like so many that no particular type sticks out in mind. I just enjoyed a cup of white hot chocolate from Dunkin Donuts the other day. Starbucks has a really tasty salted caramel hot chocolate. I love the Mexican hot chocolate from my local coffee shop. And I make a mean homemade version, myself. So I think that's what I'll share.

Elle's Double Chocolate Hot Chocolate

3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 chocolate chips (milk chocolate,'s up to you)
3 C. whole milk or half and half
Marshmallow fluff or whipped cream for topping

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, and water into a smooth paste. When this mixture is well combined and starting to heat through, add the chocolate chips and gently melt them into the cocoa powder mixture. When everything is completely melted, slowly whisk in the milk. Bring the milk and chocolate mixture up to a simmer, whisking often. Simmer for about 5 minutes to help thicken. Pour into mugs and top with marshmallow fluff or whipped cream. Oh! If you add a bit of cinnamon and a teeny pinch of cayenne, the flavor of this drink changes in wonderful ways!

Stay warm and enjoy!


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