Friday, January 16, 2009

Home-Made: Cocoa for Two

Make the perfect hot chocolate for your special valentines.

THERE’S ONLY ONE THING better than chocolate—in all its heavenly rich and creamy variety—and that’s chocolate shared with someone you love. We suggest making that sentiment a part of your Valentine’s Day gifts this year, giving the ones you love an invitation—adoringly created by you, of course!—to join you at different times for a sublime cup of cocoa. Simply whip up the cocoa mix, divide it into batches big enough to make two cups, and personalize each batch with just the right flavor to suit your best friend, a wonderful kid (or kids) and (of course!) the special person in your life. Finally, enclose each batch of cocoa mix in a pretty handmade card that invites the recipient to chat over a sweet mugful. Then smile, knowing that you’ve got at least three great dates to look forward to.

The Invitation
Start by downloading our invitation images here. Print onto regular computer paper and use pinking shears to cut around the edges of the image. Using paper glue, secure the image to the center of the front of a “matchbook” (available at crafts stores or Paper Source, 888-727-3711). Pink the top of the matchbook. Spoon 3 heaping tablespoons of the flavored cocoa mix into a glassine envelope (also available at crafts stores or Paper Source), folding over the top and securing with tape. Repeat to make a second packet. Place both packets of cocoa, overlapping, under the flap of the matchbook so that you can punch two holes through all of the layers at once. Starting from the back of the matchbook, thread  -inch ribbon through the holes and tie in a pretty bow. To close, simply tuck the front under the flap, the way you would with a real matchbook.

The Cocoa Mix
Start with this basic mix: Combine of a cup of bittersweet cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of nonfat dry milk powder and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. For each serving, use 3 tbsp of the mix (you will have enough for 6 cups of cocoa) and 8 ounces of hot water. And try adding in one of the flavor variations below for a twist on the classic cocoa.

Sophisticated Citrus
6 tablespoons basic cocoa mix
2 teaspoons dried orange zest
Pinch of ground cinnamon

Treat Time
6 tablespoons basic cocoa mix
2 peppermint tea bags (put one in each serving, steep for a few minutes in the mix after adding water, then remove)
Crushed peppermint candy

Hot & Spicy
6 tablespoons basic cocoa mix
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, scraped, with pod discarded
Small pinch of cayenne pepper

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