Warm up this winter with a rich, steaming cup of holiday cheer. Whether you make a luxurious hot chocolate with melted chocolate bars or create a delectable hot cocoa with fine-quality cocoa powder, these delicious recipes will put smiles on the faces of everyone coming in from the cold. *Luscious Hot Chocolate* * 1 cup milk * 1 cup half and half * 1 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped * 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped * 8 tsp sugar * 1/2 tsp vanilla Heat milk, half and half, both chocolates, and sugar in a saucepan on medium-low heat until chocolates melt and sugar dissolves. Pour half of the mixture into a blender and mix until frothy. Return to the saucepan and add vanilla. Stir briefly and serve. *Aztec Hot Chocolate* * 2 cups milk * 4 squares baker's chocolate * 1 tsp chili powder * 1 tsp cinnamon * 1/2 tsp cardamom * 1/2 tsp ginger * 1/4 tsp ground cloves * 1/4 tsp nutmeg Break chocolate squares and melt in a saucepan with the milk. Do not boil. Whisk until foamy. Pour into mugs. In a separate bowl, combine all spices. Mix 1/2 tsp of blended spices in each mug, adding more as desired. *Raspberry Hot Chocolate* * 2 cups cream * 1 cup milk * 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped * 2 tbsp sugar * 1/2 tsp salt * 1 tbsp butter * 1 cup raspberries * whipped cream In saucepan combine cream, milk, and sugar until hot, but do not boil. Add chocolate and butter and reduce heat to simmer. Stir until chocolate is melted. Puree 1 cup raspberries and pour into the mixture, stirring until smooth. Pour into mugs and garnish with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. *Brown Sugar Hot Cocoa* * 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate * 1/3 cup water * 4 cups milk * 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed * 1/8 tsp salt Melt chocolate and water together in a double boiler. Slowly stir in milk, sugar, and salt. Whisk until well blended. *Old-fashioned Hot Cocoa with Homemade Marshmallows* _Old-fashioned Hot Cocoa_ * 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder * 1/4 cup sugar * 4 cups milk * 1/4 tsp vanilla Combine sugar and cocoa powder in small bowl. Heat milk in saucepan to scalding. Stir 1/3 cup hot milk into cocoa-sugar mixture, and then pour back into the saucepan. Stir until blended, then add vanilla and garnish with homemade marshmallows. _Homemade Marshmallows_ * 3 tbsp powdered gelatin * 2 cups cold water * 2 cups sugar * 2 egg whites * 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted * butter In a medium saucepan soak gelatin in the cold water for approximately 10 minutes. When gelatin has softened, add the regular sugar and gently dissolve over low heat. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and then fold in 2 cups of sifted confectioners' sugar. Put mixer on low speed and slowly add cooled gelatin mixture. Increase the speed and beat until white and thick, and the mixture is approximately double in size. Line a deep 8x8-inch baking dish with foil, grease slightly with butter, and coat with part of the remaining confectioners' sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture in and top with more sifted confectioners' sugar. Let sit for at least 3 hours. The marshmallow should be light and spongy when ready. Loosen marshmallow from edges of tray and invert onto large cutting board. Slowly remove foil and use a large knife to cut the marshmallows into cubes. Dredge each piece in confectioners' sugar. *White Peppermint Hot Chocolate* * 6 hard peppermint candies, finely crushed * 2/3 cup whipping cream * 3 1/2 cups milk * 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped * 1/2 tsp peppermint extract Beat whipping cream with crushed candies until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate for at least one hour. In the meantime, heat milk on medium-low heat. Mix in chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add peppermint extract and stir thoroughly. Pour into cups and top with peppermint whipped cream mixture. *Banana Hot Chocolate* * 2 cups cream * 1 cup milk * 2 tbsp sugar * 1/2 tsp salt * 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped * 2 ripe bananas * 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon * marshmallows In saucepan combine cream, milk, and sugar until hot. Do not boil. Add chocolate and reduce heat to simmer. Stir until chocolate is melted. Puree bananas with cinnamon. Heat puree in microwave for 15 seconds and stir into hot chocolate mixture. Pour into mugs and garnish with marshmallows. *Milk Chocolate and Orange Cocoa* * 1/3 cup whipping cream, chilled * 1 tsp brown sugar * 4 1/2 cups milk * zest from 4 large oranges * 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder * 9 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped Whip cream with brown sugar until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate. Mix milk with zest from oranges in a saucepan, heating to a simmer. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain zest from the mixture and bring liquid to a simmer. Stir in cocoa powder and chocolate, whisking until smooth. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream mixture. *Cold Chocolate Eggnog* * 4 eggs, separated * 1/2 cup packed brown sugar * 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder * 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract * 2 cups milk * 1/8 teaspoon salt * 1 1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped to soft-peak stage * 1/3 cup grated semisweet chocolate This recipe is served cold. In a large bowl, beat together egg yolks, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla until thick and smooth. Slowly stir in milk, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Remove just before serving. Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture, then gently fold in egg whites. Serve immediately, garnished with grated chocolate. *Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate* * 4 squares baker's chocolate * 2 cups milk * 2 tbsp peanut butter * marshmallows Break chocolate squares and melt in a saucepan with milk. Do not boil. Stir in peanut butter until mixture is smooth. Pour into mugs and garnish with marshmallows. *Dress up Your Drink* Here are a few tips for adding some extra pizzazz to your favorite hot chocolate or cocoa recipe. _Richer Flavor_ For a richer, more decadent beverage, use whole milk instead of water--regardless of what the recipe calls for. If you want an extra-rich drink, add a teaspoon of sweet butter to the bottom of each cup before you pour in the drink. _Garnishes_ Marshmallows are great, but why not use whipped cream as a blank canvas to create a truly whimsical drink. Try topping whipped cream with chocolate shavings from your favorite candy bar. Or use colored sprinkles to reflect the occasion--red and green for Christmas, or pink and red for Valentine's Day, or rainbow sprinkles for birthdays. Or sprinkle chocolate, butterscotch, or peanut butter morsels on top. Also, consider candy stick stirrers such as peppermint, butterscotch, or raspberry, for a hint of extra flavor. _Cup Rimmers_ Give a touch of sophistication to your hot chocolate by adding a rim of flavor to your cups. Try crushing peppermint candies in a food processor, or using colored sugars for a sparkling effect. You can also create your own custom-flavored chocolate powders. Just place the mixture in a large soup bowl. Moisten the cup rim with a wedge of orange and dip it in the mixture (about 3/8 inches deep) until it is evenly coated. Carefully pour the hot chocolate or cocoa so you don't drip on the rim.
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