Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Four ways to perk up your mug of hot cocoa

Hot Chocolate & Computers
Hot Chocolate & Computers (Photo credit: Martin Cathrae)
The nights are turning cooler and the time has come to start enjoying hot chocolate once again. Most nights, a mug of Swiss Miss (with mini marshmallows of course!) is just what I need as I unwind from a busy day of pecking at the keyboard. But there are times when I need my hot chocolate to have a little more pizzazz. Here are my 4 favorite tricks for perking up my hot cocoa.
  • Sweeten it with hard candy. Hard candy can add a delightful flavor boost-think butterscotch, cinnamon, caramel or peppermint. Unwrap one of your favorite candies and drop it in your mug. Allow it to dissolve and stir well to mix the flavor. My personal favorite is to add an original Werther's to my mug.
  • Spike it with liqueur. For the over 21 set, a healthy splash of liqueur can perk your mug right up. The alcohol can enhance the calming effects of the warm beverage and relax you even more as you sip your cocoa. I enjoy the black raspberry flavor of Chambord and the sweet richness of butterscotch schnapps the best.
  • Add more chocolate. Is there such a thing as "too much" chocolate? I didn't think so! You can toss in some chocolate chips or M&M's and let them melt for an extra chocolatey treat. You will want to keep stirring your cocoa as you drink because the melted chocolate likes to settle at the bottom of the cup. You can also use Andes Mints, Reese Pieces and confectionery coatings.
  • Coffee syrups aren't just for coffee. These versatile syrups are every bit as delicious in your hot chocolate as they are in your morning cup of Joe. Torani and DaVinci offer an amazing variety of syrups to experiment with. Pumpkin pie and toasted marshmallow were instant classics in my kitchen. You can also use coffee creamers to create a lively cup of cocoa. International Delight and Coffeemate both offer money saving coupons so you can indulge on a budget.
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