So, it's been three months since my last post. I'm pretty much the worst blogger on the planet. You're about to forgive me though, because I come bearing Hot Chocolate on a Stick.
Part of living in Minnesota is surrendering myself to the notion that every type of food imaginable can and should be served on a stick whenever possible. The winters are very, very dark and long here; I'm not going to begrudge anyone whatever amusement they can find. If putting a wooden skewer through a snack makes you happy, then more power to you!
Given that I've garnered a bit of a reputation when it comes to all things edible over the past year, I knew that whatever Christmas gifts I gave this year had to include something homemade and delicious. I didn't want to send anything too delicate that might break or spoil during shipping, so that ruled out most of my original ideas. By sheer luck I stumbled across this post on an adorable blog called Giver's Log and knew instantly that I'd found the perfect thing.
I made 68 of them, because I am just that crazy.
David was away deer hunting almost every weekend (we recently bought a 7 cubic ft freezer chest to hold all the venison meat. And David claims to have grown up in the suburbs), so luckily I had the whole kitchen to myself. Sixty-eight chocolates molded in Dixie cups with sticks and candy canes poking out of them take up an astonishing amount of space.
The most time consuming part of the entire project was actually the packaging. I made three flavors: original, peppermint, and cinnamon. I wrapped each individual stick in plastic and tied it up with ribbon, hemp twine, and a little label indicating the flavor. Then I grouped them up and placed them together in larger bags--four to a pack--and added another label with directions.
We had a huge blizzard the weekend that I made all of these. It was so cozy to be inside my apartment melting chocolate and eating broken candy canes while the snow piled up outside. I may also have had a mug of hot chocolate or two. I mean, someone had to be the taste-tester and David was up in Wisconsin sitting outside in the freezing snowstorm waiting for Bambi to come along, so I had to bite the bullet myself. Tough job.
Hot Chocolate on a Stick
adapted from Giver's Log
Yield: approximately 10 sticks of Hot Chocolate
WORD OF WARNING: Do not let so much as a drop of water near your chocolate or it will seize. If it seizes (and you will know if it does because it will become a grainy, horrible mess) it will still taste delicious, but it won't look as pretty. If you don't care how they look, then you don't have to be so vigilant. Make sure that all of your equipment is bone-dry. NO LIQUIDS. This means that you can't add booze to these (just splash some into your mug once it's all made!) or things like vanilla or almond extract. If you want to add flavorings they should be in powder or paste form only.
You will need: a double boiler (or a metal bowl over a sauce pan), a piping bag (or a ziploc bag), chocolate molds (Dixie cups and ice cube trays work just as well), a wooden spoon (or whisk, I quickly abandoned my spoon for the whisk. Use what works best for you!), and sticks (wooden dowels, lollipop sticks, popsicle sticks, candy canes, cinnamon sticks, whatever!).
- 8 oz high-quality chocolate, between 60 to 72% cocoa. Do not skimp on the chocolate. I used Guittard and it was amazing.
- 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
Set up your molds and have your sticks handy.
Sift together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Please do not skip this step. Sift. Please sift. Then set aside.
Gently melt chocolate in a double boiler until about 2/3 of the chocolate is melted and a few solid pieces remain.
Take off heat and add the powdered sugar mixture. Stir, stir, stir. It will be very, very thick, like frosting. If it looks like a big old gritty mess, just keep stirring; it should smooth out soon enough. The final product will be smooth and very glossy and shiny. Immediately transfer to the pastry bag and pipe into your molds. You want 1 oz of chocolate in each mold. If you have a kitchen scale it is immensely valuable here. If not, try to split the chocolate evenly between 8-10 molds. Add a stick and let it harden--usually I give it about 2 hours to be safe, though they are often set before then. (If you use candy canes for the sticks, you will need to prop them up. After much trial and error and an awful lot of swearing I found that hooking them on a bowl worked best. Of course, I didn't have a bowl that was the perfect height, so I supplemented by adding crumpled tinfoil around the rim). When chocolates are set, remove from molds. Hot Chocolate on a Stick will keep well for up to one year in an air-tight container. Do not store in the fridge or freezer.
I decided to dress mine up a little bit to make them extra-pretty. I bought some white candy melts and dipped the set chocolates into it and then either dipped them in colored sugar, or applied chocolate transfer sheets (the plaid decorations you see in pictures). There are lots of great ways you can play with these. I already have some good ideas for future batches. Be creative, and pretty much anything goes.
Stir 1 stick into 1 cup (8 oz) of hot milk until melted. If feeling incredibly indulgent, top with homemade whipped cream. Enjoy!
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and that a joyous New Year's Eve awaits you. May 2011 bring you health and happiness.
Much, much love.