Baby it’s cold outside . . . and it’s also the holiday season. So we’re thinking a little adult hot chocolate will both warm us up on the inside, and help us relax on the outside when crazy Aunt Clara arrives on Christmas Eve. Duluth.com did the research and we’ve come up with some great ideas (you’re welcome) to take hot chocolate to the next level.
Before we started to research the added ingredients needed to spike the hot chocolate, we had to find just the right cocoa to spike. Our first attempt was oddly disappointing in that the ingredients are top secret. We have no idea how Amazing Grace in Canal Park makes its hot chocolate, but it is hands down the best in town. Turns out WCCO TV in the Twin Cities once named it second on the list of the Top 10 Best Hot Chocolates in Minnesota. We stopped short at taking a flask in to spike the stuff – and Amazing Grace wisely isn’t giving up the recipe, so you’ll have to take this one straight up.
However, we did find a mighty good runner-up in Duluth-based Mike and Jen’s Hot Chocolate. This one you can take home to spike. This delightful mix is homemade from the finest ingredients, most of which are Fair Trade and organic. No chemicals or cheap substitutes here. Grab some at Amity Coffee, Duluth Coffee Company, Duluth Kitchen Co., Frost River Trading Co. or Northwoods Confections and Gifts.
We turned up the adult factor by adding Peppermint Schnapps and stirring with a candy cane.
Candy canes first surfaced in 17th century Europe, where straight, white sugar sticks were already a popular confection. At that time, food items were often used as decorations for Christmas trees – and a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany decided to bend the sticks into a hook shape for hanging on the tree. His purported motivation? To have the candies handy for quieting children during the service. We asked some bartenders around town for additional tips on spiking the hot chocolate this holiday season and this is what they offered up:
- Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of Grand Marnier – this will add bright, orangey notes.
- Add 1 teaspoon of Rum Chata to add a crème, cinnamon, and vanilla flavor.
- For Mexican hot chocolate add 4 to 5 tablespoons of Kahlua, whipped cream for topping and use long cinnamon sticks for stirring.
- For a chocolate martini, cool the hot chocolate, pour into martini glass and add vanilla vodka and Bailey’s to taste (To taste, mind you, not to “I need to text my ex right now” levels). Remember, the tip for martinis is – one isn’t enough and three are too many.
- For those of you who like your vino, here’s one we never thought of:
6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 1/3 cup of fruity red wine, such as Pinot Noir, Shiraz or Beaujolais
1 cup of milk
Pinch of Kosher salt
Sugar, for serving
Serves two. Bring chocolate and wine to a simmer in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat; cook, whisking, until melted, about 3 minutes. Add 2/3 cup of water, milk, and salt; bring to a boil, and cook, while whisking 3 minutes more. Pour into two mugs and serve with sugar on the rim.
Bottoms up! Here’s to a warm and cozy holiday!
Written by Holly Kelsey-Henry for Duluth.com The Magazine.