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12 Days of Cocktails: Spice It Up

Posted on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014


I’m not going to speak for Santa Claus, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume the big guy is pretty tired of milk and cookies. Give old Mr. Claus a gift this holiday and serve him an Orange Spiced Hot Chocolate. Hot chocolate always makes me feel like a kid, and it just makes me want to enjoy a giant cup in my comfy holiday pajamas. So sorry if you serve hot chocolate at your house and I decide to get cozy. Who doesn’t love hot chocolate, though? I’ll tell you who, people who get coals in their stockings. Maybe Rudolph will take a turn at the reins and drive for Santa and you can make it a grown up version and add booze! Booze in hot chocolate? Oh yes, we must have made the nice list this year.

8 Cups milk
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Peel of one orange
1 tsp clove
2 tablespoon cardamom
8 star anise
1 tsp Szechaun peppercorns
Pinch of salt

METHOD: In large pot over medium heat add milk, spice and orange peel. Bring milk up to a gentle simmer, making sure to stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Bring heat to low and cover, allowing spices to steep for 1 hour. Strain spices from milk.  When ready to make hot chocolate, add spiced milk into a large pot over medium high heat, add cocoa powder and whisk until dissolved, then add chocolate chips.  Continue to whisk mixture until all the chocolate chips have melted. Bring up to a slow boil. Lower heat and pour into thermos and serve.

GARNISH: whipped cream or marshmallows
1 oz Grand Marnier
5 oz spiced hot chocolate

Build in glass starting with booze then top with piping hot chocolate. Garnish, sip and enjoy.

WITH A TWIST: For a less sweet version, add bourbon or rye. You can also swap out the Szechuan peppercorn with pink peppercorns for a spicier effect if you aren’t able to find Szechaun peppercorns. You can also omit the peppercorns all together.

PARTY TIP: You can make the spiced milk ahead of time and store in your fridge for up to 3 days.  Just reheat and add chocolate when you’re ready to serve.  Invest in a thermos to keep drinks warm – you will be surprised by how much you will actually use it.  Set up a hot chocolate station at your party with whipped cream, marshmallows and different bottles of booze so guests can construct their hot chocolate to their liking, and, as a bonus, you don’t have to spend your party making cocktails.  Efficient and clever!

GIFT IDEA: You can create this as a neat gift for the holidays by constructing the ingredients for the hot chocolate in a mason jar.  Cut the recipe above in half, and in a pint size mason jar add chocolate chips then place a small piece of parchment on top and add cocoa powder. Place another small piece of parchment or wax paper on top of the cocoa powder. Place all the spices in a piece of cheese cloth and create a small bundle that you can tie up with twine. Place this on top of cocoa powder. Secure lid on mason jar and decorate with burlap or other fabric and ribbon.  Write down the recipe and tie it to mason jar.  All they have to add is the milk and orange peel. Make it a complete gift by adding either a bottle of booze, a jar or marshmallows.

Cheers, and you’re welcome Santa!

Your neighborhood bartender,
Catherine Manabat