Hot Cocoa Recipe

Winter is here and the temperature outside is quickly dropping with each passing day😩. Gosh I can’t believe this year is over already!!!!. With cloudy skies and a gloomy weather these days, all I want to do is make a cup of hot cocoa and curl up on my sofa with a blanket and good book or binge watch Netflix 😝 . Yes!!!! It is that time of the year when you see jars of ready cocoa mix in every grocery store and almost every coffee shop selling hot cocoa. And you know what you don’t have to buy ready cocoa mix always. Why?? Because it is very simple and easy to make your own hot cocoa at home. 

Hot cocoa is one delicious hot beverage that is loved by children and adults equally. It is an instant remedy for the harsh winters. I have noticed that at many places hot cocoa is sold as hot chocolate and both the names are used interchangeably quite often. On the contrary, both of them are different. Hot cocoa is mixture of cocoa powder, sugar and milk flavored with vanilla and some other spices like cinnamon. While hot chocolate is literally chocolate that is melted with the help of little hot water, milk or cream. So hot chocolate is much more rich, thick in consistency and decadent that hot cocoa :P. It will be impossible for me to finish off a cup full of hot chocolate…that will be a little too much for me hahaha….but hot cocoa, ohhh that definitely I can..on second thoughts I can even finish off 2 cups if I want to 😏. 
Hot cocoa is very very easy to make at home. And I am quite sure you might already have all of the ingredients available in your kitchen right now.  So in this post I will be sharing the two methods (stove top and microwave) that I use to make a quick cup of hot cocoa at home.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cup of whole milk
1/4 cup of half-and-half or 1 tbsp of heavy cream (optional)
1 tbsp of dark chocolate chips or semi sweet chocolate chips – add more if you like 😜
1/4 tsp of vanilla extract

Stove top Method:
1) In a saucepan add the cocoa powder and sugar. Gradually mix in the milk and half-and-half using a wire whisk. Cook and keep on stirring the mixture on low to medium heat. Initially the cocoa powder will be floating on top. Cook till the mixture is nicely combined and thoroughly heated but do not boil it. 
Some recipe calls for adding hot water to cocoa and sugar and then adding milk. I avoid this step. It doesn’t taste rich enough and tastes a bit watery which I don’t like. 🙁
2) Switch of the flame and add the chocolate chips and stir it with the wire whisk until all the chocolate chips are completely melted and the mixture looks smooth. Add the vanilla extract and stir. 
Hot cocoa is ready to be served. Top it of with fluffy marshmallows or whipped cream, shaved chocolate or chocolate syrup and enjoy while its hot. 😋 😋 

Microwave method:

Simply divide the cocoa powder, sugar and chocolate chips into two microwaveable safe mugs. Add very little water or milk about 1 to 2 tsp or so. Microwave for 10 secs. Remove and stir the mixture until smooth (if the chocolate chips are not melted microwave for another 5 secs). Now add the milk and microwave for 1 min to 1 and 1/2 mins or until the mixture is nice and hot. Stir in the vanilla extract and serve hot. 
Thats it. Your delicious hot cocoa is ready to be served. This recipe serves two. Double the recipe as required. This recipe works good even without half- and- half. If you want it to be a bit on the lighter side you can use only whole milk. If you are calorie conscious use fat free milk and fat free half-and-half instead.  

So until next time….Happy Holidays!!!! 😀

Affogato

Hello everyone….we are back from Alaska trip and I am very much excited to share our experience and photos with all of you. So while I work on the Alaska post I thought about sharing a simple and super quick recipe for one my favorite Italian dessert /beverage. All you need is an expresso shot and really good vanilla ice cream/gelato. And I am quite sure that you will be having both of these ingredients  available in your kitchen right now. If you love coffee and ice cream then you will realize that this combination is a match made is heaven :P!!!
Affogato….. is a super simple, delicious and creamy coffee based Italian dessert. Absolutely perfect for this hot summer season. Affogato is derived from the Italian word “affogare” which means “drowned”, is known to be a typical Italian way of enjoying ice cream/gelato. A scoop or two of vanilla or chocolate ice cream/gelato is drowned in a shot or double shot of expresso. The hot expresso slowly melts the ice cream to form a creamy delicious concoction. Yes it is that simple!!! You may replace expresso with strong brewed coffee but using expresso is highly recommended. 
Traditionally affogato uses nothing but a shot of good intense expresso with a scoop of gelato but you can tweak it a bit by topping it off with whipped cream, chopped nuts, shaved bitter sweet chocolate or even a dash of alcohol. Nowadays you will find a variety of recipes online other than the traditional one that uses various other flavors of gelato and toppings. 

You will need:

2 small scoop of good quality vanilla gelato/ice cream
3 – 4 tbsp or 1 shot of hot expresso
Coffee cup or any serving cup of your choice

Method:

1) Chill the coffee cup in the refrigerator for an hour or so. This way once you pour the hot expresso over the ice cream it won’t melt all at once.

2) To the coffee cup/serving cup add two small scoops of  really cold gelato or ice cream.

3) Now pour a shot of hot expresso over the gelato. And your very own affogato is ready to be served.

Enjoy as is or top it off with whipped cream, shaved bitter sweet chocolate or your favorite choice of nuts.

Orange and Cucumber Juice with Oregano…..Refreshing Moroccan Summer Drink

This has to be one of the most refreshing and vibrant summer drinks i had since a long time. I love trying different cuisines and this juice is something i will be making quite often from now on :).

I stumbled upon this delicious recipe on epicurious.com under traditional Moroccan iftar recipes by Jeff Koehler. Great thing about this drink is that, it is so easy to put together.

I have made little changes here and there to the recipe. Nothing major though.

Ingredients:

2 cups of fresh orange juice ( i used the organic no pulp orange juice from trader joe’s).
2 small-medium cucumbers (try using the seedless ones, if you are unable to find one just try removing the seeds from the regular cucumbers before use. i used the sweet, seedless persian cucumber from trader joe’s)
1/4 tsp of oregano
1/4 tsp of salt

The original recipe calls for superfine sugar. I didn’t add any because the juice already had the right amount of sweetness. Also the original recipe doesn’t include salt, but i added a bit as it brings all the flavors together.

Preparation:

1) Peel the cucumbers, trim the ends and grate them with the help of a grater. You can also cut the cucumber in small pieces.

2) Add the cucumber, orange juice, oregano and salt in a blender/food processor. Blend until the cumber is finely pureed and the juice becomes a little thick and foamy in consistency. Check for sweetness and seasoning. Add more if required.

3) Pour the juice in a pitcher and refrigerate.

Serve chilled for Iftar alongside yummy food or on a lazy summer day for entertaining.