Today is a blustery day. Wind howls, the sky growls, and I wish we had a fireplace.

Despite this lack, I will fight this chill! It is time for hot cocoa. I have two recipes, one which is much more akin to the cocoa everyone is used to (you can make a lot of it, store it in some kind of airtight container, and then all you need is hot milk and some vanilla). The other is by far my favorite, and it is actually a very thin ganache.

For those days when I have no bar or chip chocolate in the house, I keep this tupperware in my cabinet. Emergencies! Pour:

2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa (the better the cocoa, the better the cocoa!)
1 pinch salt

Put the lid on this, and shake it thoroughly.  When cocoa is desired, fill favored mug with hot milk and a bare splash of vanilla, along with a heaping spoon of mix. Hoorah!

However, if one does have chip or bar type chocolate in the house…

Ganache is a simple thing. It’s no more than heavy cream with chocolate melted in until it shines. It’s quite thick, and used as filling for truffles, or as a frosting. However, if made thin – with regular ol’ milk, and more of it than usual – it is the singular most decadent hot cocoa. Ever.

Take your favored mug. put in chocolate chunks. Halfway up the side makes it pretty thick, if you like that sort of thing. 1/4 of the way up makes it much closer to the texture of good hot cocoa, and even one lone chip will flavor the milk a little. Dark chocolate is always a good idea, but if milk chocolate is what you have, this is still by far better than any other cocoa!

Add a splash of vanilla to the top of your chunks, and pour milk over the top. Microwave for 30 seconds. (You can do this in a double boiler too, especially if you’re doing it for a lot of people. I’m usually just making for me.) Stir, and if there are any chunks left, microwave for a bit more. When you’re done stirring, it will have a glistening chocolate sheen.

Heaven.

I would drink up, right there, but if you’re the kind you can add a lot of things. Bailey’s makes a great addition, if you’re of the mind – Bailey’s mint and Bailey’s caramel work just as well (Housemate, who has now left us, would attest to the caramel variety!) If you’re looking to keep your cocoa non-alcoholic, mint, candy cane chunks, a candy cane stirrer, a cinnamon stick, candy caramel topping….The possibilities, how endless they are. 

 You can add whipped cream or marshmallows, but I don’t find either necessary.

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