Happy snow day! Correction: If I was a school kid I’d be having a happy snow day. Then things would be different. I’d still be in my pajamas, burning my mouth on Poptart no. 2 while watching unusually extroverted adults talk about their weird problems on daytime television. Or I’d be buckled into a snow suit, arms capped by giant mittens smelling of wet leather, in search of something icy and steep to hurl myself down. With a red nose and frozen toes, my next mission would be to find a hot, sugary beverage. When I was a kid, we always had a box of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa in the pantry, the variety with the freeze-dried marshmallows in it–mighty tasty as I recall. But these days I like to make hot cocoa from scratch. It’s a little less sweet (depending on your recipe of course) and, in my opinion, even more tasty than Swiss Miss. But you don’t have to be totally gourmet or sophisticated about home-made cocoa. You can doctor it up in a myriad of fun ways (e.g. mexican spices, pumpkin pie spice, peppermint, et al.), but my current fave is this: S’mores Campfire Cocoa. Nothing conjurs up fireside fun like a blazing-hot s’more, right? So put on your Woolrich socks, slide into the kitchen, and get that broiler crankin’.
S’mores Hot Cocoa
Makes 4 little hot cocoas
¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
8 large marshmallows, or 1/2 cup small marshmallows
2 cups whole milk
5 ounces (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, (use best-quality), finely chopped
optional: 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, fleur de sel
To roast the marshmallows: Place large or small marshmallows on a parchment-lined baking sheet and broil on high in the oven for 1-2 minutes, monitoring them closely so they don’t burn. Once the tops are golden, remove from the oven.
To rim your mugs with crushed graham crackers: Put a ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs in a shallow dish. Run a napkin dampened with milk around the edge of your mugs. Dip the rim of the mug in the shallow dish of crumbs, and now you have the edge of the mug coated and ready for the cocoa.
And now, for the cocoa: Heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan. Once the milk is warm, whisk in the chocolate, stirring until melted and steaming hot. For a thick hot chocolate, cook at a very low boil for about 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Be careful and keep an eye on the mixture, as it may boil up a bit during the first moments. Taste, and add brown sugar if desired. Divide the cocoa amongst the four small graham-cracker dipped mugs and top with roasted marshmallows.
Note from David Lebovitz’s blog: “This hot chocolate improves if made ahead and allowed to sit for a few hours. Rewarm before serving. I also like to add a few flecks of fleur de sel, the very good sea salt from Brittany.”
Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg