So many of my fondest adult holiday memories are those spent avoiding tradition, and therefore, making new anti-tradition-traditions, with rare exceptions. Some of the most memorable in recent years are the few I’ve spent away from home, from experiencing Sinterklass in the Netherlands as a young 20-year-old, to sharing fries and beers with Jules in the Denver airport last xmas, to spending the day on a bus in Cambodia in 2011, with a young coconut cheering on the end of that journey.
The cheers that started all this reflection was thanks to Jules’ hot cocoa devotion. Mark traditional risotto and steaming hot cocoa on her list of culinary accomplishments, for real. I forget exactly why, but after an afternoon of chilly bike rides across town, the hot cocoa duty fell to me the other night in a rare occurrence. We were already talking about spiked cider and had thematically infused vodka on hand, so how could we resist adding a second option?
Most endearing? Jules’ request for this holiday cocktail flight led to two new additions on our home bar’s repertoire, at such a fraction of the price of what we’d pay on somebody else’s menu. And once I get my hands on a bottle of brandy, we’re going for a nog-recognizing trio.
How to make Boozy Peppermint Hot Cocoa for 2
aka How to properly enjoy hot chocolate as an adult?
- 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
- slightly less than 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1/4 cup of candy cane-infused vodka*
- 2 drops of peppermint extract
- 1 3/4 cups of plain nondairy milk
- garnish suggestion: whipped topping and crushed candy canes
- Stir equal amounts of the cocoa powder, sugar, vodka and peppermint extract in two mugs, making a paste.
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan until steaming. Try not to boil.
- Pour the milk into each cup, stir some more, and top as desired.
* This is a two-day, strained infusion of vodka + broken candy canes + handful of cacao nibs + scraped vanilla bean, inspired by Janessa’s recipe in the Vida Vegan ’13 holiday tips collection
For the Mulled Apple Cider, I don’t have exact ratios, so here’s the cozy concept (serves two):
New bottle of whisky + well-stocked spice shelf = winter warmth
- Add one to one-and-a-half shots of whisky or bourbon (fine, or brandy or rum!) into two small mason jars or teacups, along with a dash of orange bitters and splash of cinnamon liqueur, if you have it. If not, just up the spices in the next step.
- In a small saucepan, combine one-and-a-half cups of apple cider with a cinnamon stick or two, a dose of grated nutmeg, a few whole cloves, slice of orange peel (dried or fresh works, but go organic if you can), an allspice berry and cardamom pod, or spoonful of your go-to mulling spice blend. Bring this mixture to a boil, and carefully strain, filling each glass to the top and setting any remaining aside. Well sealed, it’ll keep in the fridge for a few days.
- Top each glass with a cinnamon stick and use to stir.
Cookie time. The downpour seems like it may be taking a break and I have places to ride, so let me conclude that these cookies were inspired/marketed by a promoted tweet, courtesy of Huffington Post Taste’s Gingerbread roundup. It comes from a blog that basically copy/pasted this Martha Stewart recipe. Don’t tell MS, but the blogger’s version were enticingly way more goooooooo-EY, so I’ll almost give them credit, which is what leads back here. I’ll also note that I opted for dark chocolate ⸺ which means that I have one of those enormous bars from Trader Joe’s in my kitchen ⸺ added dried cranberries (oh…and cut my finger opening the package, washed it, and carried on like I was on Chopped), and subbed the butter with 3 parts vegan margarine and 1 part room temperature [solid] coconut oil. These are intensely spiced and I mean that as a huge compliment.
Next week? Dreams of brandy, Thai take out, sugar cookies and recreating the rugelach of my childhood for the first time in nearly 8 or 9 years.
P.S. Let this come as a warning: Do not use the WordPress “beep boop” editor, as much as it may beckon. Always save your drafts in the post editor. Lost grooves, le sigh.