Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Some like it hot!

When the weather turns cold, there are some great beverages for warming the mouth, stomach and soul. Sure, you can drink coffee and tea all day, but by the evening you'll be bouncing off the walls and looking for something more. With that in mind, FoodPair is here to present our tutorial for making the cold weather classics: Hot Chocolate, Mulled Wine and Spiced Apple Cider.

With a couple short-cuts and tips, you'll be making your own gourmet versions of these drinks and impressing everyone, young and old.

1. The Best Hot Chocolate

As you can probably guess, the key to making fantastic hot chocolate starts by getting rid of the pre-made mixes and reaching for the good stuff: high quality chocolate bars. Also, fat equals flavor, so reach for the milk with the highest fat content you want- preferably whole milk, but 2% is fine too.

The process couldn't be simpler: for 4 servings you'll need 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate and 1 quart (4 cups) of milk. Crush the chocolate and put into a sauce-pan with the milk. Place on medium heat until bubbles form and then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring constantly until the chocolate is fully melted. Before serving, raise the heat to any temperature you like and it's ready!

For a boozy kick, add some Baileys or Kalua to the mix. For a little extra spice, try adding cinnamon or cayenne powder. Feel free to top it off with mini marshmallows or whipped cream.

2. Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is another great cold weather treat.

First, pick one bottle of your favorite dry red wine, perhaps some Cabernet Sauvignon or Burgundy. You'll also need 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 6 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, the peel of 1/2 an orange cut into strips, the peel of 1/2 a lemon cut into strips, 1 cup of port and 1 cup of brandy.

Combine everything except the port and brandy in a large pot and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Let it simmer for 10 minutes before adding the port and brandy. At that point, heat it until the mixture is steaming, which is just short of boiling, and you're done!

Pour into individual cups and garnish with some of the citrus peel strips or extra spices.

3. Spiced Apple Cider

If you've read the recipe for Mulled Wine, turns out you already know what you need to make Spiced Apple Cider.

The only difference is that you'll need 5 cups of fresh apple cider instead of the wine and you can omit the port. Add the brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon sticks, citrus peel, and apple cider to a pot and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for 10 minutes and then add the brandy. Continue to heat the mixture until the cider is steaming, but not boiling, and you're done!

Instead of brandy, you can also use spiced rum, which complements the cider nicely.

OK, time to turn on the stove and warm up with some delicious drinks! Feel free to fire up the FoodPair search engine for other delicious recipes for hot chocolate, mulled wine and spiced cider.

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