The holiday season is approaching, November is coming to an end, Mariah Carey’s melodies fill the air and Christmas carols echo. This time of year is rich in traditions, from festive feasts to special activities with loved ones. However, my family never adopted these customs. Our Christmas decorations disappeared after they asked my 8 year old self if I cared. Unlike my friends, our house lacked the usual Christmas decorations. However, our holiday spirit remained strong and focused on family and quality time. Dad and I bonded over sports and made NFL playoff predictions while Mom and I enjoyed classic Christmas movies.
These days, my holiday season consists of making treats while watching “Evil Santa” episodes of shows like “Futurama” with friends or family. One Thanksgiving tradition I always keep is serving hot chocolate in the morning. A warm cup of creamy hot chocolate enriched with vanilla and homemade whipped cream is the perfect way to start your vacation.
This year I was inspired by my mother’s memories of Germany. During her time there, she told me how much she enjoyed dipping bread into a delicious, thick chocolate drink known as “drinking chocolate.” You might call it a fancy hot chocolate, but for some it’s the ultimate way to enjoy the holidays.
This season, I invite you to create your own drinking chocolate and biscotti inspired by my mother’s treasured tradition. The warm sips of drinking chocolate paired with delicious biscotti create a cozy and heartwarming combination, perfect for enjoying at holiday parades or while decorating your Christmas tree. Try this delicious recipe and create your own magical holiday traditions.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 mins
Servings: 4 to 6
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup cream
- 16 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped (Note: your chocolate should be at least 70% cacao or you risk breaking your hot chocolate.)
- ¼ cup sugar (adjust to taste)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Whipped cream, marshmallows or chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)
- In a medium saucepan, combine milk and cream over medium heat. Heat the mixture until it begins to simmer, but avoid boiling it. Stir occasionally – the milk must not burn.
- While the milk and cream are heating, place the chopped dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Once the mixture is simmering, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
- Let the hot milk and cream sit on the chocolate for 1 to 2 minutes to melt. Then stir until the chocolate is smooth.
- Return the mixture to the pot and reduce the heat before returning it to the stove. Add sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Stir often until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust desired sweetness by adding sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.
- As soon as the desired sweetness is reached, bring to drinking temperature. Once reached, remove from heat and serve. Top with your favorites like whipped cream and marshmallows and serve with a delicious biscotti (see below)!
Cherry almond biscotti
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Servings: 28 to 36 biscotti pieces
- 1½ cups (about 8 ounces) dried cherries
- ½ cup whiskey, more if necessary
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup whole blanched almonds, chopped
- 3 tablespoons sugar (if you have turbinado sugar, I recommend using that one)
- Oven-safe rack required
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat cherries and whiskey in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cherries are soft, about 5 minutes. Provide a cup to hold the liquid. Pour into the cup and reserve 2 tablespoons. If the amount of liquid is less than 2 tablespoons, add enough whiskey to make 2 tablespoons.
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in 3 whole eggs one after the other. Mix in the reserved cherry liquid and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture. Stir in the cherries and almonds.
- Divide the dough in half on a lightly floured work surface. Shape each half into a 13-by-2½-inch log. Flatten the logs (which should be rectangular with heavily rounded corners) to ½ inch thickness. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush with 1 beaten egg; Sprinkle with the sugar.
- Bake for 35 minutes, turning the tray halfway through. Transfer to wire racks to cool, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
- Cut each log diagonally into 14 to 18 pieces. The pieces should be about ½ inch long. Make sure the logs are completely cool before cutting, otherwise they will crumble. (A sharp knife will help with this task; try to find one that can cut through the entire width of the biscotti.)