In the The Willowbee Tree story “First Flurries,” Clancy and Piper are enjoying the delights of autumn when they begin to see small flurries of snow. This is exciting for Piper, but it is startling for Clancy. He is not ready for snow — the thought makes him want to go inside and climb into bed. But when the Willow Tree takes them to Alaska where it is even colder and snowier, they meet some animals who greet the winter weather in very different ways.
Personally, I weather the winter with light and warmth. In the literal sense, that means twinkle lights, beeswax candles, wool socks, and piping hot drinks. But in the more figurative sense, it means spreading light and warmth — making time for big family meals, telling do-you-remember-when stories around a fire pit under the stars, and leaving little surprises in friends' mailboxes to help keep them warm, too.
If you're interested in that last one, this week's recipe is for you.
Homemade hot chocolate is a soothing comfort that will help with both literal and figurative winter chills, but the logistics of delivering it can be difficult. These hot chocolates on a stick let you share all the love of hot chocolate with your friends and family — but without sloshing it all over your lap on the way.
Even better, these hot chocolates are shelf stable, which makes them perfect to tuck into a care package for a college student or a brave soldier who needs a little extra light and warmth while they're away from home.
Hot Chocolate on a Stick
(makes about 20 cubes)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
16 ounces chocolate chips
1 teaspoon flavoring (coffee and peppermint are both good choices)
Ice cube trays or candy molds
Once the chocolate chips in this recipe are melted you will need to move quickly, so get everything else in place before you start that process.
Mix the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together in a small bowl.
Snip the straws down so that they're about 6 inches long. Have an ice cube tray or candy mold ready to go. And last, get a plastic baggie or piping bag open to spoon the chocolate mixture into.
Use a double boiler (or a heat-proof mixing bowl over a saucepan with an inch or so of water in the bottom) to gently melt the chocolate chips. Working fast, add the powdered mixture and flavoring to the melted chocolate and stir well. If the chocolate starts to firm up too much as you're mixing it you can pop it back over the heat for a minute, but stir constantly if you do. Don't leave it for even a second, because it will scorch very quickly.
Spoon the chocolate mixture into your prepared plastic baggie, snip the tip off the baggie, and pipe the chocolate into your mold.
Once all the spaces are filed, smack the mold down on your countertop several times to release any air bubbles, then insert the straws in the center of each square.
These will take a few hours to firm up at room temperature, but it's fine to put them in the fridge to speed up the process. Once they're solid, store them in a cool, dry place.
When you're ready to make hot chocolate, stir each cube into about 8 ounces of warm milk and enjoy!
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.