Here’s the thing about hot chocolate. I love it! My mom has a recipe for the best hot chocolate mix, to which only hot water needs to be added because it includes powdered milk and powdered non-dairy creamer… plus lots of sugar!
I don’t want to knock that recipe. It really is like chocolate heaven in a cup. When I was a kid, we would pour all the ingredients into a huge tin, the same one every year, printed with a snowy Thomas Kinkade-esque scene of a small town with ice skaters and Christmas carolers. Then we would shake, shake, shake it up, listen for the whistle of the tea kettle, and have hot chocolate at the ready to enjoy by the fireplace, cuddled up under blankets, all winter long.
I love the warm memories attached to that hot chocolate mix. It reminds me of home, of the love shared by my family.
The problem is that I don’t know if I could enjoy that hot chocolate in the same way now that my taste for sweets has changed so drastically and my feeling towards strange ingredients likely included in “powdered non-dairy creamer” has become so skeptical.
It is hard feeling distanced from that family tradition, and I think particularly hard because my husband comes from such a different family background. I struggle with being counter-cultural when my closest relationship is with someone from another culture. I want to be able to bring something to our new family table. I want to be able to share the beauty of my culture and to carry it on in family tradition.
The tradition of hot chocolate by the fire doesn’t have to be lost, though, I suppose. Only the funny sounding ingredients have to go. Oh, and we will need to move into a house with a fireplace.
Actually, in a nice merge of our cultures, I have been making hot chocolate these days with warmed milk and cocoa powder sourced directly from Ghana (carried over in a suitcase!). I have also been experimenting with different hot chocolate flavorings. I am a fan of a cinnamon stick stirrer. I also enjoyed the kick provided by the dash of cayenne I added to my cup the other day!
The advertisements I am seeing all around me for the new and so totally “cool” Dunkin’ Donuts Mint Hot Chocolate have also piqued my interest in figuring out how to add some minty flavor to my at-home chocolate brews. (Note from the ingredient list that there isn’t much real mint or chocolate in the Dunkin’ Donuts version.)
I thought crushing up peppermint sticks was a great idea. I also considered making a mint simple syrup or simply purchasing some mint extract, but it was a stop at Argo Tea on a holiday outing in the city that revealed my favorite solution. Mint tea!
It is the best way to get real mint actually in this drink, without too much added sugar either. I had mint tea bags from Celestial Seasonings, but fresh mint or mint dried from the garden would be a dream. I used 100% Ghanaian Golden Tree cocoa powder. I would be pretty happy if this is the way we continued my family’s hot chocolate tradition…
Mint Hot Chocolate
with Tea and Honey
1 mint tea bag
1-1/2 cups hot water
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons honey
Steep tea in hot water for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove tea bag. Add warmed milk. Stir in cocoa powder and sweeten with honey. Garnish with a peppermint candy cane if you like, and enjoy! Makes 1 mug.
I hope you enjoy the beauty of your own family traditions this season. Happy Holidays!