Mmmm…Hot Cocoa

 

The first freeze of the season hit us this morning in Abilene, Texas. The cold snap reminds me that winter is fast approaching. Those blue northerner winds that cut through you like ice shards, sweaters, fuzzy socks, and lots of snuggle time with loved ones. Like any season, there are things to look forward to with excitement and things we tend to dread. One thing that I enjoy about the cooler temperatures, however, is the excuse to drink hot beverages. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I love hot tea sweetened with honey or even better . . . hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate makes me think of the ski lodge at Tahoe where my family used to go for our annual ski trip at Christmas. It makes me think of my mom and me huddled on the couch watching movies. It makes me think of my daughter who inherited my sweet tooth. But it also makes me think of my first heroine, Hannah Richards, in A Tailor-Made Bride. She couldn’t start her morning without a cup of hot cocoa.

Hannah mastered her sewing skills while working under the tutelage of an established dressmaker in San Antonio, but before coming to Texas, she lived with her mother and younger sister in Dorchester, Massachusetts. To support her girls after her husband died, Mrs. Richards took a job in the Baker Chocolate Mill where she was rewarded for her diligent work with discounts on their products. So instead of coffee or tea, the Richards women drank cocoa.

Not knowing how available breakfast cocoa would be in Coventry, Hannah made sure to pack one of the large five pound canisters in her trunks. And upon arrival, her first order of business, beyond finding her shop and unloading her belongings, was to arrange for a daily delivery of milk. One couldn’t drink breakfast cocoa without milk.

 

To prepare her morning cocoa, Hannah would first need to boil 2 cups of water in a kettle. While the water heated, she would take a small pan and mix 1 ½ tablespoons of her Baker’s Breakfast Cocoa, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a few grains of salt. Once the water boiled, she would add ½ cup to the cocoa mixture and stir until it formed a paste. Then she pours the rest of the boiling water into the pan and lets the mixture boil for one minute. In the meantime, she is also scalding 2 cups of milk in a second pan. When the mixture has boiled for a minute and the milk is ready, she turns the chocolate mixture into the scalded milk and beats it for two minutes with a hand-held egg beater. Not quite as convenient as the instant packets we have today, but something tells me it would taste much better Hannah’s way.

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What is your favorite hot beverage and what are you looking forward to most about winter?
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For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.

27 thoughts on “Mmmm…Hot Cocoa”

  1. I love the whole idea of a pretty pot and hot chocolate as an event, a true project. Now it’s so easy and I LOOOOOVE easy. But it just becomes this casual no-big-deal drink.
    I think instant food in all it’s forms are both an absolute wonder and a bit of a shame.

  2. I’m a big hot tea drinking in the cold months.
    I just got an order in the mail of Tetley’s Earl Grey. I just love it AND they’ve improved the tea bag. It’s really a fun little thing with drawstrings so you can’t burn your fingers and you squeeze all the blazing hot water out of the bag.
    Tetley’s and Twining are my favorites. When you leave the tea bag in to soak to long, it never gets bitter. It just gets more flavorful.

  3. I agree, Mary. I love the easy factor. I wouldn’t have time to make cocoa the way they did back in the day. I don’t steep my tea in a pot, either, or strain the leaves. Just pop that tea bag right in the hot water and watch it do its thing. However, it does lose some of it’s wonder when the cook doesn’t have to put much love into the effort.

  4. I love hot chocolate. My oldest daughter has inherited and expanded on it. She adds a bit of coconut rum to hers in the evenings. Reminds me of an Almond Joy or Mounds candy bar.
    During the day I love hot tea with lemon and honey or a hot chocolate. For a night by the fire with my DH, a nice, hot Irish Coffee the way I make it (not too strong) is wonderful.

    When I was in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, they made hot chocolate in the spanish style and it was so good. I wish I had paid more attention to how they made it so I could duplicate it here at home.

    I live in TN now but grew up in NY about 65 miles south of Montreal, Canada. I don’t miss the bitter cold or the messy slush in the Spring. I do miss the sound of snow falling, walks in the winter woods, the delightful warmth of coming in from the cold and sitting by the fire with a hot drink. We used to make ice rinks for our children in our yard so they could skate and slide around. We do get snow down here, but it isn’t really the same. The area isn’t equipped to deal with snowy roads. It never stays cold long enough or gets enough snow to really enjoy it.

    I hope your day warms up for you.

  5. I love your additions to the the classic, Patricia. Fabulous! Sometimes in the afternoons when I need a pick-me-up, I’ll fix a cup of hot chocolate and eat a handful of almonds. It’s almost like having a Hershey bar.

    You’re right about the south not having the equipment to deal with the snow. We were iced in for a week last winter because of a freak ice storm that refused to melt. Made for a nice impromptu vacation, though. 🙂

    There is nothing more beautiful to me that a snowy woods. When we would go skiing, one of my favorite things was riding the lifts and oohing and ahhing over the evergreens covered in snow. Gorgeous! I miss that.

  6. Hot chocolate with whipped cream or marshmallows is always a treat, but my drink of choice is a Venti Cappuccino. No syrups, no sweeteners. I’m a purist when it comes to coffee. It’s chilly today. That trip to the post office just might include a detour to Starbucks.

  7. Karen,

    What a nice post for a crisp fall day. I always like to include hot chocolate in my stories. Not sure why, but it seems like someone always comes in from a blizzard and is treated with hot chocolate.

    I used to love it, but unfortunately in high school I got very sick after drinking a cup and now as delicious as it looks it doesn’t settle well.

    So my favorite cold weather treat is a peppermint mocha coffee.

    –Kirsten

  8. Hi, Vicki. I’m a purist, too. Even though I love hot tea, I have very simple taste. Give me the plain old Lipton. I don’t like herbal teas or flavored teas, just the ordinary stuff. What does that say about me, I wonder? Hmmm…

    Hope you get your detour to Starbucks. Enjoy!

  9. Hi, Kirsten. So glad you stopped by today. What a bummer that you can’t drink hot chocolate any more. But I must say that your peppermint mocha coffee sounds perfect for the holidays. I might start humming a carol or two just thinking about it! 🙂

  10. I remember my mom making cocoa the way you describe it in your post, Karen. It was so much better than the ready-mixed stuff we can buy now. Tempted to try it. However, I usually find cocoa a bit too sweet and heavy. And I’m lactose intolerant, to boot, so it doesn’t set well with me.
    My everyday morning drink is a tall latte with coffee and soy milk and a touch of cinnamon, iced even in the winter.
    Thanks for a heartwarming post–we’re expecting the first winter snow here tonight.

  11. Ooooh Karen, I love me some hot chocolate in the winter. I sometimes add flavorings when I’m looking for an extra special treat, like a touch of syrup from a marachino cherry jar or a bit of eggnog.

    My go-to all season hot drink though is hot tea – especially vanilla chai.

  12. Hi Karen, what a wonderful post. Really makes me long for winter. (Okay, a winter day for me is about 50 degrees LOL) I got a Keurig coffee machine from the fam recently and I love the variety of hot drinks I can make. (even cold ones) Right now I’m enjoying either sweet hot tea or decaf coffee. Coffee is almost always the first thing in the morning, but tea or cocoa at night is something I look forward to.

    I can’t wait to light our first fire in the fireplace! oxox

  13. Hi, Tanya. I remember California winters! My thin skin still hasn’t adjusted to the ones in Texas, and I’ve been here for over 20 years. 🙂

    I’m with you on the fireplace. Some nights we lay a fire they camp out in the living room. Sometimes as a family, sometimes just me and my hubby. Love it!

  14. Hi, Karen, the cold weather hit us here in Houston
    also, so it’s hot tea for me! As much as I love
    hot chocolate, diabetically the tea is better for
    me. I’ll have to save the chocolate for very
    special occasions! BTW, I follow my mother’s method
    of using Mexican chocolate for our hot beverage.

    Pat Cochran

  15. Pat – I’ve heard about Mexican chocolate. It’s not quite as sweet, right? I wonder if it is a darker blend. A lady from my church came home from a mission trip to Guatemala and handed out cakes of Mexican chocolate and wooden stir sticks that the people there would twirl between their palms as they stirred their cooking chocolate. I never got around to trying it myself, but now I wish I had.

  16. I don’t do tea or coffee, in much of any form. However, I love cocoa. And usually cocoa instead of hot chocolate. It’s what my Grampa drank every morning, so I learned to make a simplified version. (Just mixing sugar and cocoa powder with a little water then adding the milk and heat)

    Now I have a hot chocolate pot where I can simply add ingredients and turn it on. It heats, mixes and froths and when the light goes off, it’s ready to drink.

    Oh, now I need to go home and make some cocoa!
    thanks for the delightful post!

  17. Tea. I love tea so much I drink two cups a day with honey or sugar. And sometimes a cup of mexican hot chocolate, depending on the weather.

  18. A Tailor Made Bride sounds enjoyable! Hot drink of choice is strong black coffee. I drink Maxwell House, nothing fancy.

    Winter I do like the first snowfall. I love a white Christmas with a crackling fire in the fireplace. I love the smell of pine from the freshly cut pine tree. I enjoy cross country skiing. Wisconsin has some gorgeous trails through the state parks and state forests. We always take a thermos of hot chocolate along to help us unthaw. I’m happy to escape to Florida after the holidays.

    As I get older I find that I do not tolerate the cold for long periods of time. My husband and I love to take daily walks. I hate freezing!

  19. Cheryl and Cindy – Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. There’s just something comforting about a warm drink, isn’t there?

    Laurie – Thanks for your comments on Tailor-Made. Your winter description almost makes me sad that our weather turned a little warmer. Almost. 🙂 I’m pretty cold-natured, too. I much prefer the fireplace and hot chocolate than being out in the wind and snow. Hope you have a good winter!

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