Oh, I’m so happy to be back! When I logged into WordPress today, I read a notice that this blog has been up for a year. I felt a little sad that I hadn’t posted in over two months, but a series of family events and crises in July pushed me into a creative void. We ate out a lot.
Thankfully, our family had some time to regain some stability during our family vacation to Asheville, NC, at the end of August. We rode narrow horse trails in the Smokies, white-water rafted along the French Broad River, and enjoyed the kitschy bling of Gatlinburg, TN. Supplementing those excursions were our daily dining experiences at Asheville’s award-winning restaurants; I took my guys to the Tupelo Honey Cafe whose brown butter pecan pie was the inspiration for the one I make every Thanksgiving. (My son fell in love with their goat cheese grits, so I figured out how to make them when we returned; he’s very happy).
Those of you who’ve been reading this blog from its inception may recall that we have a yearly camping trip. Kurt, Ken and I, my sister Tina and my Kappa Delta BFF Grace relax in the great outdoors. Fortunately, we camp at a state park; as we drove past the national park, we saw that it was closed.
It was a great trip; Ken brought his violin and serenaded us at dusk, then we would play charades or our wacky version of the “Dating Game” aka “How Well Do You Know Your Family?” It’s hard to believe five people could laugh so loud.
When one goes camping, one brings hot chocolate. This year, we had three versions: 1) instant Swiss Miss (the desperation hot chocolate), 2) a fancy blend from Penzeys spices (Tina’s, of course), and 3) my homemade recipe. These three choices led to a taste test; we automatically eliminated the desperation mix, then Tina heated some milk for the other two.
The Penzeys mix is gourmet; however, if you don’t like cinnamon and chocolate together, you will not like this mix. Ken hated it. Upon tasting, my reaction was “the Chai tea of hot chocolate.” It’s good in a complex, foodie way, but definitely not what first comes to mind when you’ve been told you’re drinking cocoa– especially on a camping trip! A coffee house with some jazz in the background would have reduced some of the tasting dissonance.
My homemade mix was well received by all tasters. Tina said it was creamy and chocolatey and asked me for the recipe. So here it is!
Note: You will need a food processor to blend the ingredients together; a blender might work, but I’m always worried about the motor’s heat melting the white chocolate (yes, there is white chocolate in the mix).
Make-Your-Own Cocoa Mix (based on reading several recipes online and some trial-and-error)
- 3 c nonfat powdered milk
- 2 c confectioners (powdered) sugar
- 1 1/2 c cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s)
- 1 c white chocolate chips
- 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder (omit if you are worried about kids and caffeine– I am not)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
Place all ingredients in your food processor; if you have a small work bowl, work in batches since the powdered ingredients fly everywhere.
Process until the chocolate chips are finely ground; I usually pulse a few times, then let the blade run continuously until I have a good powder. Store in an airtight container.
To make hot cocoa: Use 4 to 5 TB (or more to taste) per cup of hot milk. You can also use water since the mix is made with powdered milk, but your drink will NOT be as creamy. Stir to blend and top with mini marshmallows if desired.