We are huge fans of hot chocolate here at Maple Hoo. Specifically Williams-Sonoma’s peppermint hot chocolate at the holidays, adorned with our own homemade marshmallows. Of course, the peppermint hot chocolate is really only available for eight weeks a year (and we try to be good and limit our consumption of it to more like six or even five weeks), but then we’re left for the entire rest of the frigid, bleak winter with no warm, chocolaty drinks. Sure, we used to make hot cocoa back in the days before discovering the peppermint stuff, but it was always so hard to get the right balance of sweetness and rich cocoa-ness, and often it would turn out to be only okay, but with a heavy residue of clumpy cocoa crap at the bottom of your mug. I was not interested in a winter of making and drinking that swill anymore. So when we were in Dallas and stopped in at the storefront Penzey’s near Patty’s, imagine our delight at finding Penzey’s hot cocoa mix! It’s like Swiss Miss, but from a name I trust! We bought a little jar of it, sampled it that night on Patty’s back patio (it was an accommodatingly brisk Dallas evening, too, that smelled like winter), and made plans to order much, much more of it upon our return home.
Yes, that’s four pounds of hot cocoa mix. We started with just one, but it seemed like so little, considering we’ve got probably five months of wintry nights stretching out in front of us!
So, this past Tuesday, with Halloween behind us, and on a stressful night of election emotions (high highs!) and devastating Devils news (low lows!), we headed over to Williams Sonoma to perhaps get a sneak preview of their delicious holiday candies. We weren’t going to buy any until December 1 (last year we had so little holiday candy discipline that we burned out on the stuff well before Christmas), but Caitlin had sent us a hugely generous W-S gift card, and what better way to spend it than on than candy? What better way to drown our Brodeur sorrows while waiting on the election news? And what better way to celebrate the (literal) awesomeness that election night ended up offering?
Right. But there in the middle of the candy display was something I would have scoffed at if not for the gift card burning a hole in my pocket: an electric hot chocolate maker. Now, I have a set of wonderful pots that are perfect for everything but making hot chocolate, because they don’t have lips to facilitate pouring into mugs. In previous years I’ve used a hot chocolate pot that’s beautiful, makes lovely hot chocolate, pours like a pro, but is impossible to clean. So Boomer suggested we give this new cocoa maker a try, since it would be essentially free. Well this was shaping up to be an even better way to spend our moneys than candy! (Not that we didn’t also get candy, mind you.)
It looks so great sitting next to our bucket o’ cocoa mix! But how does it work? Well, first you have to start out with some milk — in our case, Boomer stocked up to make sure we wouldn’t run out during the weekend.
That might be overkill.
Anyway, you pour the milk into the carafe part of the machine…
…then measure in the cocoa…
…then set the timer on the base of the machine and wait 6-8 minutes for your cocoa to be done.
It couldn’t be simpler! And more than that, Pookie thinks the little guy on the machine (“the zany Italian dude”) looks like that little guy on the glass in Sesame Street who wandered all over the kitchen. She hopes this dude prances about whenever we’re not around.
The machine froths the cocoa all up (so much so that it overflowed on our first attempt with it), but also has a frothing attachment in case we wanted even more froth. For now, we’re pretty happy with the standard version.
The next miracle, after how insanely easy this is to use, is how easy it is to pour!
If I could marry a kitchen gadget, it might just be this one. Thanks to that zany Italian dude, we’re now enjoying cafe-style hot chocolate. There almost isn’t room on top for when we start adding marshmallows.
Don’t worry, though. We’ll find a way. Fitting marshmallows into our super-frothy hot chocolate? Yes we can!
(Posted by Schnookie)