Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hot Chocolate....YUM!

Here it is! I haven't blogged on here for what.... 2 years?! That's just terrible (sorry, Vandy). Luckily, since I need to share Hot Chocolate recipe from Super Saturday, I have another reason to blog. I wanted to be really good about maintaining this blog, but a full time job sometimes stifles my time, creativity, desire, etc.

A few months ago I was asked to put together a craft/class for making jars of hot chocolate for Super Saturday (a day full of crafting awesomeness). You know, the kind of jars you could give as gifts. Last year I taught candy making and it was a blast and I was happy to do something again.

These jars had been used, which is why they aren't as beautiful as they would be if we were really giving them away.

 I did make the tags and the jar lid toppers myself too. Courtesy of my Silhouette Cameo, which Lyle got me for our anniversary. Best. Present. Ever. 

Also, my pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe can be found here. They tasted much better than they look, promise!

I do love hot chocolate made with chocolate (not just cocoa), but I wasn't sure how well that would work as a gift in a jar. Trying to keep the cost down, I decided to make a mix from scratch. I started with my recipe go-to, Alton Brown. I made his recipe first with Ghiradelli Cocoa Powder and thought the mix was perfect. That cocoa was definitely more expensive, so we went to Costco to explore the cheaper option. Note: this was a "sweet" ground cocoa. 
When I used this cocoa powder, which only cost about $5 in store and was by far the cheapest anywhere, the flavor changed a bit and I found that the hot chocolate wasn't as sweet as it had been when I initially made it. The flavor was fantastic (this cocoa is good), but it wasn't sweet. I like sugar and I wanted more. Hence the reason I mentioned that I needed to experiment with recipe.  

Luckily, Alton very rarely steers my wrong, so I only needed to change up the amount of powdered sugar and cocoa. If you are doing jars, like the pictures above, this recipe yields about 6.5 cups of mix. Enough to more than fill a quart size jar or a few pint size jars (especially if you save room for a layer of marshmallows, etc. in the jar). This mix will last for a few years in an air tight container (like a jar) stored in a dry dark place. You won't want to use the regular non-dehydrated mini marshmallows if you are planning on storing it for a long time. The dehydrated kind (link in recipe) will work better for that. Also, if you add things like creamer directly to the dry mix, it won't last as long on the shelf. 

Here is my recipe:

*You may want to start off with this recipe, then taste your mix and adjust it according to your taste and ingredients. My feelings won't be hurt, I promise.

Homemade Instant Hot Chocolate:

3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder (dutch processed is preferred for a richer chocolate flavor)
2 1/2 cups powdered milk (the brand of powdered milk can affect the overall taste too)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons corn starch

Add ins
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional...but very tasty)
1 cup mini marshmallows (optional....but should be required)

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix it well (you can also put everything in a ziplock bag and shake it up). Store in an air tight container. 

Making a Mug Full
When you are ready to drink it, fill your mug up between 1/3 to 1/2 full of chocolate mix, then add hot water or hot milk. Again, the amount you add will depend on your preference. Stir well and enjoy! Mugs come in all different sizes, which is why I don't measure the mix by spoonfuls. Also, obligatory warning *Hot Chocolate is HOT! Be careful, you could really burn yourself!*

How I Take My Hot Chocolate
My preferred way to drink it is to fill my cup just under half way full with the mix. Then pour in enough very hot water to almost fill the mug, leaving about an inch of space between the liquid and the top of the mug. Stir well, then fill mug the rest of the way with cold milk. It cools the hot chocolate down enough to drink it sooner and it adds more of that yummy creaminess. Or.....my super secret most favorite way.....promise you won't tell anyone? Sometimes I leave a little more room in my cup and instead of adding milk, I add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.......your welcome. :)

You may still want more sugar, or maybe you like it less sweet so you want more cocoa.... Maybe you want to add some coffee creamers for fun flavors, peppermint, or a little cinnamon? Do whatever makes you happy! 

If you have any questions or great add on suggestions, please share! 

*Lessons Learned: In one of my jars that I made for an "example," I had a layer of crushed peppermint candy. I did toss it really well with cornstarch before adding it to the jar. However, I topped it with the non-dehydrated mini marshmallows. By the time I opened the jar about 3 weeks later the candy had sucked out all of the moisture from the marshmallows and formed an awesome crust that was difficult to break through. I would definitely recommend not using those two together for a gift that may sit around for awhile. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Here are a couple of pictures of my most recent cupcake endeavor.

They are pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and chocolate lettering. I'm still working on the piping front, but these were still fun! They are for Lyle to take to work tomorrow.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Margherita Pizza

The other day Lyle had a craving for something that was that was simple and delicious. We are very big fans of fresh mozzarella, basil, and amazing bread, and it was easy for us to decide that we should make a Margherita Pizza. In case you are unsure, a Margherita Pizza doesn't have any alcohol in it (some people get confused by the name). It is a simple pizza that is created with a great crust and the simple toppings of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and maybe sauce. We did make some tomato sauce to use for dipping. 

This recipe is one that I use as a basis for all of the homemade pizzas I make. Sometimes we get crazy with the toppings, but these are great instructions for a simply delicious pizza pie. 

I handmade this focaccia, which is my family's favorite for homemade pizza, but it is amazing for sandwiches and other thing fun dishes. The recipe originated from Le Cordon Bleu's, "Professional Baking" book that I used in my baking class. I have changed it slightly, but it's really amazing as is. 

When baking, it's better to use weight measurements (oz, grams, lbs, etc.). There are many little chemical reactions that create the final product and exact measurements are sometimes needed. For the bread recipe, I will put the weights, but I did measure them out by cup, tsp, etc. so that you can still make this if you don't have a scale. Although, Christmas is coming, and I would highly recommend that you add a scale to your list. They are wonderful. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Frost Doughnuts Continued...

I felt really guilty about not posting pictures in my last post about Frost Doughnuts. Since I love you all so much, I bought some more doughnuts and took pictures of them for you.

Enjoy! (You may want to put on a bib to catch the drool...)

The amazing Maple Bacon Doughnut

A vanilla and sprinkle doughnut.

The Strawberry Shortcake doughnut in the back and the Bavarian filled in the front.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In My Kitchen: (Spatulas and Spoons)

During my time in kitchens, any kitchen, I developed a love hate relationship with spatulas (rubber scrapers, or whatever you choose to call them). They are a great tool, but I have had many handles break, give me splinters, melt, etc. Plus, many of them have a dirty little secret. Have you ever had the rubber part slip off of the handle while you were stirring something and been disgusted by the sludge that was inside of the spatula? I don't have any pictures, but you know what I mean right?

I have thrown away my share of doughs, batters, and spatulas, because of that little nasty trap. The last time it happened was over a year ago and I vowed I would find something that would never let that happen again.

I am proud to tell you, that I found it! I have had this amazing spatula for a year now, and I adore it. It is completely covered in silicon, so the handle can't come off and the inside structure is so sturdy, no amount of stirring has been able to bend it! There is no hate for this spatula at all. 

This spatula has been absolutely perfect for that entire year. The little knick that you see it in was caused literally 1 week ago in a freak knife-in-the-sink-ate-a-chunk-of-my-spatula accident. Despite the little knick, it still works amazingly and probably will for a while. 

Before this accident, I also realized something shocking, I only had one rubber spatula! What?! I only had 1 rubber spatula?! Well, with the favorite child of spatulas injured, I decided it was time to grow our little spatula family. It's a good excuse, right? 

Here they are! Please excuse the little bit of dust that is on some of the spatulas. I just unpacked them and was so excited to take pictures of them, that I haven't even washed them yet. 

Ok, you caught me, there are some spoons in this mix too. How could I resist? Look at those fun colors.

Am I little crazy for being so excited about spatulas? Possibly. But the next time you are in the market for a rubber spatula or a stirring spoon, I highly recommend that you get something similar to these. They are definitely some of my favorite kitchen utensils. 

(Just as a side note, I'm not being paid by anyone to review these spatulas and I am making no guarantees as to the performance of this product in your kitchen.)

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