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Don't cheat self out of fab cocoa

Make it from scratch for the perfect warming winter drink

Hot chocolate is the perfect antidote to cold days for children and adults. But tearing open a pack of powdered mix can hardly qualify as a family activity.

Hot chocolate made from scratch is darker, richer and far more fragrant. This recipe, adapted from Alice Mednick's book "Chocolate Holidays," uses simple ingredients yet invokes the pleasant ritual of authentic hot chocolate.

Real Hot Chocolate

3/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of milk
3 ounces unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon sugar, optional, to taste
Whipped cream, optional, for serving

Chop chocolate into small bits. Boil water. In a separate medium saucepan, place chocolate in a medium saucepan, reserving a few pieces to sprinkle over the top when served. Turn the stovetop to medium heat. Pour splash of boiling water into the chocolate pan and stir with a whisk or spoon until the chocolate is melted.

Gradually add the rest of the water, and then the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Try not to let it boil. If you're using unsweetened chocolate, add sugar for a little extra sweetness, to taste. Top your cups with whipped cream, if desired. You can also adorn hot chocolate with marshmallows, a peppermint stick, drizzles of chocolate syrup or sprinkles of cinnamon and cocoa powder. This recipe can fill six small demitasse cups, or two regular-sized coffee mugs.

Quick tricks

Pressed for time? These quick tricks give you homemade hot chocolate in a snap.

- Use chocolate chips instead of chopping up the chocolate.

- Cut down on dishes by measuring your milk and water in your drinking mugs. Fill each up three-quarters full and boil the mug of water in the microwave.

- For a quick hot chocolate that's richer than your average powdered mix, add a package of Jell-O chocolate instant pudding to six cups of milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk well until blended and serve.

Source: Northwest Herald

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