This year's challenge, for me, was my daughter's teacher coming up to me and telling me that they were going to be having a hot cocoa movie party at school early this week and could I please send in some hot cocoa and cookies that were safe for her to consume at her Christmas party yesterday.
The cookies weren't a big deal as I got down the whole "corn free cookie" thing a while ago. But the hot chocolate was a bit more difficult.
See, I'd made my daughter hot cocoa in the past, but it was always fresh with real chocolate. I didn't think that would survive in a thermos very well without getting an odd texture.
So, I tried to figure out something else to do. I really didn't want to send in powdered hot cocoa mix as the home made stuff I put together doesn't really taste good unless you use hot milk (and I knew that wasn't going to work since the hot cocoa at school was going to be the powered stuff you add water to). Bending my brain a bit, I finally came up with an idea.
And so I started to mess with the concept of chocolate syrup again. I hadn't had a lot of luck in the past with chocolate syrup, for some odd reason, but when I started thinking "hot cocoa syrup" it all came together. Amazing how a change in thinking will make something happen for you.
The taste of this syrup is as close to Hershey's chocolate syrup as I could get, although it is thinner since I didn't use thickeners in the mix and used maple syrup as one of my sweeteners compared to straight sugar. If you WANT a thicker end product, just boil the syrup longer (if you want a thick ice cream/hot fudge type of syrup) or add a bit of arrowroot starch before you serve your hot cocoa if you want thick hot cocoa.
Either way, this syrup tastes good, is easily dissolved in any type of milk you choose (I would try to go with some type of milk as I THINK water would be a bit thin tasting, but that might just be me), works as a ice cream topper, to make chocolate milk, etc. It also holds up well once made into hot chocolate in a thermos, so this is a good one for skating parties and other outdoor activities. And the best part? It takes no time at all to make. Always a nice thing :).
Chocolate Syrup/Hot Chocolate Syrup (gluten, corn, dairy, soy, peanut, tree nut, refined sugar free)
1. Combine cocoa powder, maple syrup, palm sugar, water and salt in a small saucepan. Whisk well to combine (trust me a whisk is your friend here). Heat over medium high heat until mixture boils and then reduce heat to medium and boil for one additional minute.
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder (be sure to use one that isn't cross contaminated with nuts...haven't run into a lot of them, but they are out there)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup turbinado or palm sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
2. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add vanilla and mix well. Chill. Store in fridge until ready to use (I stored mine in a salad dressing cruet thingie).
Works well as an ice cream topper, poured over sliced strawberries, added to a smoothie (if you want a chocolate note to it), etc. Sky is the limit really.
To make hot chocolate:
Take 3 TBS mixture and place in the bottom of a standard sized mug. Add 3/4 cup hot milk of choice (coconut milk is my favorite). Mix well. If you want it more chocolatey add syrup a little at a time until desired chocolate level is reached.
And I hope your holidays are going well! Enjoy!