Saturday, December 5, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree... I'm Cold and Need Hot Chocolate

Ah, it's that time of year again. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, and time to get in touch with my inner Lumber Jack and chop down a Christmas tree. Woo Hoo!!!

I find it ironic that during the Yule festival, which celebrates the beauty and wonder of the evergreen that lives through the winter while all deciduous have lost their leaves and started hibernating. Here I go and callously mow one down in cold sap and unceremoniously plop it into the living room to watch it slowly die over the next month... But I like to believe that this tree is following it's Christmas destiny. After all, it was from a tree farm and I shall adorn it in twinkling lights and shiny baubles, and in it's demise shall it be all the more glorious. LMAO

I know, I have a warped sense of humor. ;)

Back to topic... I went and cut down a Christmas Tree today, up on the chilled slopes of Larch Mountain with the slightly frozen ground crunching beneath my feet. I could not help but try and find all the patches that has raised up slightly with crystals of ice and jump on them, just to hear the crunch sound... OK, not only do I have a warped sense of humor, but way down deep, I am still just a kid.

So... the perfect tree was eventually found and loaded into the truck where, upon returning home, the bottom branches needed trimmed and the stand needed to be mounted so it could be moved into the house and placed in the bay window, where it shall be crowned with an Angel and draped with many, many, many, many lights... Did I mention many lights?

All day today the temperature remained a balmy 30 degrees... Yeah, it's cold... So after being outside for what seemed like an eternity, it was finally time to come inside and enjoy that fresh fir tree smell that can ONLY occur when you have a fresh Christmas tree in the house... Regardless of what "Glade" and "Renuzit" try to tell you, it does not come from a candle or a cute little oil containing gizmo that occupies one of your household outlets so you have no place to plug in your vacuum cleaner, but have a handy little light so, in the dead of night, you can SEE where you cannot plug in your vacuum cleaner. :)

And what better way to enjoy that fresh evergreen smell and remove the chill from your bones than with a delicious cup of Hot Chocolate... Not Hot Cocoa mind you, but Hot Chocolate... Oh yeah baby, THAT'S the stuff. I usually use Scharffen Berger 62%,

but I just happened to have a Chocolove bar lying around and hey, any chocolate that you would eat, is gonna make GOOD Hot Chocolate... What would have really set this off, though, would have been either a candy cane or a peppermint stick to stir with. Alas, I could not find mine.

Hot Chocolate

8 oz Whole Milk (or Half & Half if you want it REALLY rich)
2 oz Chocolate at 60% - 68% Cacao Solids
a tiny pinch of Salt (Trust me, just a tiny one though)
a tiny pinch of Cayenne (unless you are using a peppermint stick)
2 oz Heavy Cream

Simply begin heating the milk in a saucepan over low heat.

Break up your Chocolate bar.

Add it to the milk along with the Salt and the Cayenne.

Use a whisk to stir the mixture until the chocolate has completely melted (this is kind of like making a runny ganache)

Whisk a little bit of Heavy Cream, just until it becomes frothy but not thick.

Pour the Hot Chocolate into a mug.

Spoon the slightly whipped cream over the top. (This acts as an insulator to keep it hot and prevent a scum from forming on the top)

Sit down on the floor, stare at your Christmas tree (which is still a little crooked), fill your lungs with the intoxicating scent...

and take a sip.... YUM!!!

Oh, I found my Peppermint Sticks, about 3 hours later... LOL
They would have made a wonderful addition (just drop the cayenne)

Cin Cin!!


Dajana said...

We've just finished decorating our tree, a cup of hot chocolate would be great!

Michele said...

I always wanted to make homemade hot chocolate. It just so happens that I have half and half (which i never do, only skim milk) and bittersweet ghiradelli chocolate. Do you think that would work? Would I need to add sugar? I'm so excited to possibly make this! Your tree is beautiful by the way! We got ours this afternoon, too!

Shane T. Wingerd said...

Dajana - It is kind of like the icing on the cake. :)

Michele - The half and half will be delicious, do you know what the cacao content is? If it's over 70% you might want to add 1/2 a tsp of sugar. I usually stick with the 60-65% then there is no sugar needed.

Michele said...

Thanks Shane, I'll check it out when I get home.

Unknown said...

Homemade hot chocolate? I want sooooome!!!! I love the tea cup! and i can almost smell your christmas tree. I will, once again, be using a scentless fake one.

Katy ~ said...

You make me smile. This was a delightful post. We don't put up a tree, we have five cats. Can't keep them off the hutch or the top of the TV or the top of anything; I think there is no hope for a tree, sigh.

Nothing like real hot chocolate...yummm

Patti T. said...

I am always surprised to hear how many people have not made homemade hot chocolate. You are so right on the pinch of salt. I don't know how I missed this post, so glad I found it. Your tree is gorgeous!