Hot Chocolate and Holiday Cheer

It’s Christmastime and I’m pondering life because that’s what I’m inclined to do.

Call me old fashioned, but I still believe in couples who dance together in the kitchen. There’s nothing better than a man who grabs the wooden spoon from your hand, sets it on the counter,and spins you around before kissing you. I believe in holding hands. I believe in playing footsies.

My eight-year-old son recently said, “Footsies is a romantic thing people do under the table with their feet.” Yes, son, it is. And I believe, as long as you pay attention to that which is happening under the table instead of looking only above the surface of its woody frame, you’ll be okay, kid.

I admit, this could be a symptom of getting older, but all I really want for Christmas is a warm home, a good meal, and to watch a movie curled up on the couch with a blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and the man I love.

I also want to squeeze my kids, let them twist my arm until I agree to play Monopoly (I hate that damned game), and open gifts with the family I’m so lucky to have – my kids, parents, grandparents, and in-laws. I want to embrace each snowflake moment, in all its fleeting and unique elegance, letting it melt into my DNA.

Get out the cheese-ball. She’s on a roll. Now shut up and drink some hot cocoa.

Recipe for Real Hot Chocolate and Holiday Cheer

1 quart whole milk (sub soy or almond milk, if you prefer)
12 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped, I like to use chocolate that is at least 60% cacao (try cutting it with 4 to 6 oz. real milk chocolate, if you like)
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, with the seeds scraped. (save the husk – put it in your sugar container and leave it there – it makes vanilla-bean scented sugar)
Pinch of good quality, finely ground sea salt
1 reminder that your time is the best gift you can give your loved ones.

Some optional additions:
– A shot of dark rum & a pinch of cinnamon in each cup.
– Go halfsies with hot cocoa and coffee and then add Kahlua.
– Add 1 tsp. ground chili powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and a pinch of cayenne.
– A shot of Peppermint Schnapps, topped with freshly whipped cream, and crushed candy cane.

Warm one cup of milk over low heat. Add the chocolate, vanilla bean seeds, and salt. Whisk continuously until the chocolate has completely melted and is fully incorporated into the milk. Turn the heat up to medium, add the rest of the milk, whisk well, and heat through. Make good use of the optional additions. Give someone you love a hug, and lend them your ear until you’ve sipped your cup dry.

Enjoy the holidays.

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Jen Cartier misses Chico! However, she has taken to the great beyond (er...The Bay Area) to be some kind of chocolate maven while simultaneously figuring out how the hell to navigate her long-ass work commute, and still kick ass at raising three munchkins, loving one soon-to-be husband, and keeping one rascally Brittany Spaniel in the damned yard. She loves Nutella, red wine, and American Spirits. She takes her dog along on runs to wear him out (sometimes he shits in someone else's yard - bonus!) and also to balance her own general consumption of all the fine tasty things life offers, ciggys included. Follow her blog at riceflourmemoirs.com