Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hot Coco

It's one of my favorite things in the world.

I love hot coco.  It's one of the few things I can say I actually like about living in places where the winters tend to be long and cold.  There are lots of opportunities to make this delicious chocolate-y beverage of goodness.

Now, there's the traditional method of making hot coco, combining milk, powdered baking chocolate, and sugar in a big pan, which is then heated on the stove until the mixture is nicely melded.  I remember a few occasions when my mother made it this way.  Probably the most memorable of these was the time I was in the third grade and it was over Christmas break.  My cousin from Washington state had come to visit for the holidays.  We had gone sledding at the local sledding hill, which is, interestingly enough, exactly that now, instead of being part of a school play ground.  Anyway, when we got home, my mom made a little traditional hot coco, while we kids watched the movie version of The Phantom Tollbooth on TV.  Probably one of my best holiday memories ever.

More common, however, has been the powdered, instant kind.  This is what my parents would most often make for my brother and I when we'd go traveling, or hunting, or were just coming in from fun in the snow, or some other such thing.  I've found that there's a lot of variety between brands, especially ones at different price points.  Sure, there's the big name brands like Swiss Miss, which are pretty good, but I think I prefer the cheaper brands better.  I'm not sure if that's because it's what I grew up with or not.  No matter the reason, though, I find that the cheaper the brand, the better it is when it comes to hot coco and hot chocolate mixes.  The best I've had in a long time was the low-end second string store brand that my local store brand sells.  It's been really great.  It brings back memories of duck hunting and ice fishing with my dad and grandpa.  There have been plenty of times the thermos of hot coco was an important part of the trip north to visit relatives over the holidays.

Now that winter is pretty much on the way out and spring is on its way in, I find that I'm running low on excuses to make one of my all-time favorite beverages.  It's just not the same trying to stir coffee with mint candy sticks.

Then again, with summer on the way, I get to make big batches of lemonade, too, so I guess I've got that to look forward to.

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