MISSION: GET INTO YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Four decadent cocoa recipes from your favorite food bloggers!

Hot chocolate is as much a part of winter as blue lips and yellow snow.

Now there are even more reasons to whip up a mug of this delicious, rich drink: research shows that the dark chocolate in this drink can make you look younger by plumping your skin and reducing redness, lower blood pressure, improve circulation and even decrease your risk of death!

To make this cold weather treat even tastier, we've asked four of our favorite food bloggers to share their best hot cocoa recipes that include a unique twist on the traditional standard.

Here are their delicious hot cocoa recipes you can try at home right now:

Hot Chocolate with Chili Powder
By Jennifer McHenry of BakeorBreak.com

 

One of my favorite things about cold weather is hot chocolate. Now, hot chocolate is one of those things that is so simple to make that in no time at all you can have a wonderfully delicious homemade treat.

There are all kinds of ways to dress up a mug of hot chocolate. One of my favorite additions is chili powder. Chocolate and chili have been paired together for hundreds and hundreds of years. It may seem a strange combination if you've never experienced it, but somehow the sweet and spicy aspects of the two just work.

This recipe will provide enough hot chocolate mix for several wonderful warm cups.

Ingredients:

1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cocoa (I like Dutch process)
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Mix all of these ingredients in an airtight container and shake until thoroughly mixed.  This makes the perfect amount to fit into a large mason jar. Sealed up, this mixture should keep for at least six months, although my jar seems to be empty within a week.

When you're ready for a cup, mix 1 cup of hot milk (heated on the stovetop or for about 2 minutes in the microwave), 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of your homemade mix. Whipped cream is optional, but highly recommended.

After the chocolate, one of my favorite things about hot chocolate is it's flexibility. Each cup can be tailored to suit your mood and taste. A couple of suggestions: a few ounces of pepper vodka or cayenne powder instead of chili.

Makes 4-6 servings.
 

  
 

Chai Hot Chocolate

 

My husband loves homemade chai while I love hot chocolate. I have always found chocolate and spice to be a sexy combination. So one night I decided to use the spices from my husband's favorite chai and combined them with my recipe for rich, dark hot chocolate. The end result was a spicy, decadent treat we could both agree on.

 

Ingredients:
 

2 cups milk

cup unsweetened cocoa

cup sugar

4 cinnamon sticks, broken

1 teaspoon black cardamom seeds*

1 teaspoon vanilla

16 cloves        

16 allspice berries

2 small dried chili peppers

 

Directions:
 

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer, whisking occasionally, over medium heat until hot but not yet boiling. Strain into 2 mugs. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve.  

 

* You can substitute 1 teaspoon of green cardamom pods, crushed.
 

Makes 2 servings.
 

  
 

Smitten Kitchen Hot Chocolate with Orange
By Deb of SmittenKitchen.com

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk
Peel from orange, halved
3 tablespoons finely chopped bittersweet (70%) chocolate
teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon Baileys or other cream sherry
Dollop of barely-sweetened whipped cream

Directions:

Heat milk and orange peel together in a pan until almost simmering. Discard peel. Whisk in chocolate and coffee, then Baileys. Dollop with whipped cream and curl up on a soft sofa with a long, old movie.

Makes 1 serving.
 

  
 

Hot Cocoa with Hazelnut Liqueur
By Ivonne Mellozzi of creampuffsinvenice.ca

When I was young, we would always have hot cocoa after coming in from the cold weather. While the kids enjoyed a simple version of hot cocoa, the adults often enjoyed this slightly more grownup version with Frangelico, a lovely hazelnut liqueur that goes well with cocoa and chocolate.

Ingredients:

2 cups milk (preferably whole milk)
4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar (more, if desired)
2 tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
Lightly whipped cream (for garnish)
Cinnamon (for garnish)

Directions:

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, gently warm the milk.

Once the milk is warm to the touch, add the cocoa powder, sugar and Frangelico. Stir to combine and dissolve the sugar.

Increase the heat to medium high and bring the milk just to the boil.

Once the milk is about to boil, remove from the heat and pour the milk through a strainer into two mugs.

Garnish each mug with a dollop of lightly whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Makes 2 servings.
 

  

 

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More food in this issue of Four Weeks Magazine:

Week 1: Gingerbread house cupcake recipe! Cute & easy!

Week 2: Tricky foods! 3 make you gain; 3 make you lose

Week 4: Surprise! This snack boosts happiness...
instantly!

 

 

 

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