The Sweetest Thing

Hot chocolate and dessert recipes to warm the soul

Here are five nutty delights and three fabulous drinking chocolate recipes to warm you up and bring you good tidings for this holiday season. Enjoy!

Old-fashioned Drinking Chocolate

4 cups milk

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces

₃ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and salt. Stir until smooth. Add chocolate and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. If you prefer it thicker, add more chocolate. Pour into mugs.

Serves 4

Chili Chocolate

6 cups milk

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 red chili pepper, split

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cloves

1 stick cinnamon

12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces

pinch of salt

whipped cream for garnish

Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Add vanilla, chili pepper, pepper flakes, cloves and cinnamon. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain into a clean pot. Heat on medium, and add chocolate in batches, stirring until smooth. Add salt. Pour into mugs, and garnish with whipped cream.

Serves 4

Peppermint White Chocolate

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup white chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

whipped cream for garnish

peppermint candy, crushed

Heat milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Add extracts and chocolate and whisk until smooth. When chocolate is melted and milk is hot, pour into mugs. Garnish with whipped cream, and sprinkle crushed peppermint on top.

Serves 4-5

Walnut, Golden Raisin and Pistachio Bread

1 1⁄2 ounces yeast

1 1⁄2 ounces sugar

1 1⁄4 pint skim milk

1 ounce butter

1 pound white flour

2 pounds whole-wheat flour

6 ounces raisins

6 ounces walnuts

6 ounces pistachios

2 ounces salt

Warm the milk and add to the yeast and sugar. Let rest for 10 minutes, until proofed. Melt the butter with the salt. Mix the flour in a mixer with a dough hook. Add yeast mixture and butter, and mix in the mixer until a dough forms. Place in a covered bowl in a warm spot for one hour—the dough won’t rise so much as it will lighten. Separate the dough into three dough balls, and gently fold in the raisins and nuts . Shape into loaves. Place on a lightly greased pan and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with Stilton cheese.

Marzipan balls

1 roll almond paste

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 egg white

a few drops rose water

unsweetened cocoa

Grate the almond paste, and mix with the next three ingredients using your hands, until the paste is smooth and light and hangs together. If it’s too moist, add sugar little by little. Roll teaspoon-sized amounts into balls, and dip (or roll) in the unsweetened cocoa.

Note: Use a light touch with the rose water—it should be a barely discernible note. Alternative: a couple of drops of orange oil.

Hazelnut cake

13 ounces grated hazelnuts

2 sticks butter

1 cup sugar

5 eggs

1 3⁄4 ounces all-purpose flour

4 level teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

a little milk


high-quality semi-sweet chocolate

2 tablespoons Crisco

Cream butter with sugar, add eggs and mix well. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add gradually to butter mixture, until well blended. Mix in vanilla. Batter should be neither too thick nor too thin—add a little milk if need be. Bake in a loaf pan at 325 for one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

When cool, slice into bite-size cubes. Melt chocolate with shortening, and coat the cake cubes. Let dry on waxed paper. (Option: Leave cake intact, and coat it with the chocolate.)

Rice pudding with caraway and cinnamon

1 tablespoon caraway seed (ground)

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

9 cups water

1 cup rice flour

2 1⁄2 cups sugar

1 cup walnut halves

1⁄2 cup slivered almonds

1⁄2 cup pine nuts

Combine ground caraway, flour, sugar, cinnamon and water, and simmer slowly for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight. Soak the nuts overnight in separate bowls in water at room temperature. The next day, serve the pudding with the nuts on top, and sprinkle well with powdered sugar.

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