beverage & drink recipes: scents of home & loco for hot choco

Old Fashioned Hot Chocolate Recipe

For me, the tastes and smells of fall not only mean the holidays are soon approaching but it’s a warm feeling that I embrace. Not because of all the prezzies I may get from Mr. Santa (well, who’s kidding, that’s pretty nice) but more so the warmth of embraces that we have for each other during this time of year. And even if it’s just for a few months that we are on good behavior, I savor it.

After traveling and moving abroad, being away from everything that is familiar, and even though I made my host country home, it’s not “HOME”. During the years of globetrotting or when I was in boarding school as a child, savoring sips of hot cocoa and graham crackers (actually dipping them into the hot chocolate) those smells, as mundane as it might sound, mean EVERYTHING.  One year, I actually kept the wrapping paper my parents sent from “American Greetings” because it had that “all American style” and the paper had that Holiday smell, a smell so specific during the holidays. This year was no different. I finally gave in and ordered a bunch of glass ornaments for a Christmas photo shoot. I had done the modern tree with ornaments from independent designers, and while I love them, I’ve always wanted glass. I decided to do silver and gold. Most are imported from Germany, Poland, and other parts of Europe, but I bought them from “The Christmas Market” and think in the US, every state must have their own version of “A Christmas Market”.

The package arrived across the globe (thank goodness for Expat Personal Shoppers) and it was fast, and very, very reasonable. Each ornament was carefully packaged, placed in its own box with “The Christmas Market” written on each one. I smelled the tissue paper, and it brought back a whiff of memories down holiday lane. Fleeting and subtle scent memories, but truly exciting and somehow bittersweet.

For me, this time of year means hot chocolate! Hot chocolate is still as popular as it was over 2,000 years ago when it was invented by the Mayans and it’s easy to see (or rather, taste) why.

Growing up on the East Coast from New York to Baltimore, I’m no stranger to ice storms, snow storms, and sleigh riding. When I was a child, I would wear the favorite boots I got for Christmas, white snow boots with the furriest of furs around the calf. I would slosh in wet snow through the back entrance of our previous home, an old Victorian House,along with my siblings with our noses running and red. My mother would fix us a cup of Hot Cocoa. Now it might have, on occasion, been out of a package of “Swiss Miss” but for me it was what I looked forward to most on a cold day.

I’m currently abroad, so it wasn’t my usual packet of “Swiss Miss” nor was it “Hershey’s” cocoa. I used Meiji Chocolate , and Van Houten which is sold here in the supermarkets. Both are equally the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

Because I’m older and still like mine quite rich, I have a small portion to curb the calories or use reduced sugar cocoa. The Mr. has become quite smitten with this, this year! But for a truly old fashioned cup of hot cocoa, here’s a fantastic recipe:

Old Fashioned Hot Chocolate Recipe

250 ml of milk, a quarter heavy cream and the rest whole milk
Two tablespoons (heaping) of your favorite cocoa
Sugar to taste (unless the cocoa comes pre-sweetened)
Three large marshmallows (We get ours from Belgium one has a slight berry taste, similar to guimauve)

For a truly old-fashioned cup, allow the milk to form a skin after being brought to a boil, stove top is the best, but if you want it in a minutes (or two) time, here’s what I do: I heat the milk up in a microwave, stir in the chocolate, then add the marshmallows, put it back in the microwave and heat until the marshmallow become three times their size, and ta dah, it’s done! If I have guests, I sprinkle it with an extra touch of bitter cocoa. 

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25 comments

  • November 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm //

    What a very nice post. Love your discussion and the hot chocolate made with some heavy cream sounds so delicious. I too love this time of year. I don’t think it’s too early to wish you this….it’s great to get a head start…Happy Holidays!

    • November 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm //

      Thank you CCC! I have the heavy cream for the holidays, but it sure is such a lovely trip down memory lane!

  • November 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm //

    Nothing like a rich cup of cocoa to brighten up one’s day, and the marshmallows provide the winning touch. Happy holidays!

  • November 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm //

    Hot cocoa reminds me of my childhood as well as the Christmas season. It has been awhile since I have had any and this post is inspiring.
    I buy one ornament a year that has the year indicated on them. That is one of our family’s traditions. We are all looking forward to the holidays!

  • November 10, 2011 at 9:55 pm //

    During the holiday season, I also love to indulge in treats that remind me of my childhood and of home. This hot cocoa looks delicious. A classic for a reason.

  • November 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm //

    What a beautiful post! This looks absolutely delicious. I’d love to snuggle up with a cup right now. Lovely photos, as always.

  • November 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm //

    Beautiful!
    I remember hot cocoa (not the Nesquick old kind) as a special treat at a yearly weekend we’d spend with my grandparents at a hotel in the Palatinate, Germany. It felt decadent, and I would invariablyburn my tongue, but it was always perfect :)

    • November 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm //

      OH yes, Nesquick, I used to buy that all the time, for a cup of cold milk chocolate!

  • November 10, 2011 at 11:23 pm //

    This looks so rich and indulgent… perfect to curl up in a couch and watch NCIS with :D

  • November 11, 2011 at 2:16 am //

    Isn’t it amazing how smells can bring back memories and comfort? Your cup of hot chocolate looks so tempting! Love the pictures!

    • November 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm //

      It is, smells mean everything to me, such a true comfort. Thank you so much for commenting Jill.

    • November 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm //

      Thank you Stephanie!

  • November 11, 2011 at 8:46 am //

    That hot chocolate looks delicious!! Too bad I can’t eat regular marshmallows! I’ll make it my goal to find vegetarian ones to make this recipe :) yum!

    • November 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm //

      Hi Ruth, and thank you for commenting, that’s right, mallows have an animal based gelatin, is that right?

      • November 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm //

        Yes :-/ but they do sell vegetarian in some places, probably Whole Foods Market?

    • November 15, 2011 at 2:48 am //

      Try homemade marshmallows – Lots of recipes, including Martha Stewart’s via Oprah on web search.

  • November 11, 2011 at 11:54 am //

    Oh happiest joys…to all.
    Twinkles in My hot chocolate,
    Nutmeg dustings atop the coffee-nog
    Desert brandys to warm the cold…

    • November 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm //

      Thank you JMS! What is coffee Nog?

  • November 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm //

    Mmm, that looks so good, I love cosy nights in with some hot cocoa this time of year!

  • November 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm //

    Eggnog and coffee ¦~)

    • November 12, 2011 at 1:07 am //

      opps dash of burbon….with the coffee-nog.

    • November 12, 2011 at 7:24 am //

      Ah, Okay, I was having a “derrrr” moment! I’ve never had eggnog with coffee, I’d like to try it!

      • November 15, 2011 at 4:30 am //

        All good….=)

  • November 12, 2011 at 10:13 am //

    Thanks for reminding me that I have an addiction to chocolate! I am absolutely crazy about them! =)