Old fashioned Home Made Eggnog Review

Homemade Eggnog

Homemade Eggnog  Testing. Left to right back row: recipes from Instructables.com, Spice and Foodie & About Food. Front row: recipes from All Recipes.com and A Sweet Pea Chef

My husband tells the story of his childhood in Saskatchewan, where at Christmas powdered eggnog mix was available. He recalls that when made up into a drink the stuff was terrible, but alone on a spoon, as a kid this stuff was heaven.

At Christmas eggnog comes along side the milk and cream in the dairy section, while quantities last, but the drink isn’t really very real tasting. So this year, for the holidays, our family decided to do a comparison of some recipes for home made eggnog from scratch.

The Competitors

I chose recipes using different techniques to see which our family and friends preferred. Three with the basics: egg, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. And two with additional extras.

1. About Food offers a recipe for a cooked eggnog using whipped cream as the frothiness. The recipe says it takes 65 minutes but the actual requirement is to let the custard chill for at least 4 hours, so I would say make it the day before. I found this recipe the most time consuming of the bunch.

2. Spice and Foodie has a recipe called Hubby’s Old Fashion Eggnog that is made cold and then chilled. This is by far the easiest recipe, also the thinnest as it doesn’t use whipped cream, egg meringue or custard for thickener.

3. Instructables.com gives a recipe that combines yolks with milk and spice (booze is optional so we omitted it), and then folds this into beaten egg whites to create a whipped thick nog. The egg whites give a fluffy texture, and add the thickness.

4. All recipes.com used two additional ingredients: condensed milk and salt in an uncooked version of eggnog. This one uses whipped cream for thickening.

and lastly

5. A Sweet Pea Chef adds cloves and cinnamon to the mix in a cooked eggnog recipe. This is the thickest recipe of the bunch, and the most cooked. The addition of the other spices does change the final flavour.

Our Thoughts:

Eggnogs are supposed to be thick. But how thick? The cooked eggnogs create a custard that becomes the thickening factor. I found that the Sweet Pea Chef recipe(#5)  almost too thick, while the Spice and Foodie recipe (#2) could have used some thickening.

As far as taste – the most nutmeg flavour was in the Spice and Foodie recipe (#2) calls for a full teaspoon of fresh ground nutmeg in it’s recipe. The only other recipe asking for the same amount was the Sweet Pea Chef recipe (#5), but there two other spices blend for the flavour profile.

The cooked About Food recipe had a cooked egg flavour reminiscent of tapioca pudding. The nutmeg taste is enhanced with the addition of the recommended garnish, but personally I would recommend doubling the amount in the recipe as well. Others who sampled this found this was their preferred option, saying that for those who do not normally like eggnog, this is the better one. That must be so, because my eggnog hating daughter loved this recipe.

We found the Sweet Pea Chef recipe also very cooked in flavour, and the no one preferred this choice. My husband said the combination of spices remind him of pumpkin pie and that this could be very good mixed with something. My friends suggested it would be excellent on Christmas deserts. For a drink, we gave it a couple days and tried it again, diluted with milk (half and half, or just a bit less milk if we wanted it richer). The flavours had blended and the drink was much more eggnog like.

When it comes to simplicity the Spice and Foodie (#2) recipe wins, but for flavour and thickness the competition is between AboutFood’s recipe (#1), Instructables recipe (#3) and AllRecipes.com (#4). While I liked the cooked version, as a eggnog fan the recipe #3 wins out for thickness and flavour. The addition of egg white meringue makes this recipe very frothy, light and flavourful, while adding whipped cream in recipe #1 and #4 increases the richness tasted in the beverage and competes with the flavour of the nog. Interestingly, the meringue thickened recipe (#3) has the most whipping cream in the recipe of all the five tested! Guess that goes to show what whipped egg whites can do.

_MG_9621The Verdict

The winner of the tasting challenge was #1 with the most votes. The cooked quality was great for all ages, and the taste is preferred by even non eggnog fans.

Second and third go to Instructable.com and Spice and Foodie, each having advantages over the others.

If I was to host a party and look for a recipe to serve, I would go with the recipe from Instructables.com, which is fairly simple to make doesn’t require cooking and cooling, or tempering over time, and has the great frothy look from the meringue.

For giving as gifts? I would choose the safest approach and go with the winner. And for home, just to have and enjoy any time? The Spice and Foodie recipe since it requires little time and no additional ingredients. That being said, I would probably pick up a whipping cream bomb and add a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg to the glass and then Cheers and Happy Holidays!

 

Pumpkin Chai Latte

Pumpkin Chai lattee: Curl up with this on a cold winter day or serve to guests at a holiday soiree.

Pumpkin Chai lattee: Curl up with this on a cold winter day or serve to guests at a holiday soiree.

Earlier this year I found some great recipes for pumpkin drinks, as well as creating my own both, which I blogged around Thanksgiving and Halloween. Recently when researching the recipe for one of my favourite teas —Chai— I realized that the spice combination for pumpkin pie and chai are similar.

According to allrecipes.com, they list equal portions of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger with just a little less ground cloves added. Other sites like the Kitchen Treaty suggests more cinnamon than the other spices but it’s the same four ingredients are in all recipes I found.

Chai Tea is most commonly ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom with the emphasis on cinnamon and ginger. In chatting with a friend recently back from India she mentioned that fennel is also added to Masala Chai. The recipe I used for my spice mix can be found here and ads black pepper to the ingredient list.

But cloves and cinnamon and ginger right? Those three are the same and powerful flavours in both combinations. So, sez I, why not blend the two concepts?

Well it’s been done before – both online by Cookie + Kate and in local coffee shops, but hey that doesn’t need to stop me!

Pumpkin Chai Latte

This recipe is attempting to be as close to a pure latte as possible so milk froth is the key. Without a true frothing machine, this may be more tricky, but not impossible. If you want to push the simple button, and love lattes, I recommend getting a frothed. There are many different options, from cheap at place like IKEA to really high end ones – Tuum Est! (Ha! A shout out to fellow UBC Grads on that quote). Want to do it without any specialty items? Yup you can! Check how to froth with a simple glass jar and whisk here, or with just a lidded jar and spoon (how basic is that?) here.

Ingredients:

2 oz pumpkin purée
1 oz honey
2 oz chai infusion
4 oz whole milk

Procedure:

Heat milk to boiling in pot or frother and froth well, or use alternative method (see above for ideas and links) to make froth. Remove the best of the froth into a separate bowl (for now) and add remaining ingredients and  to hot milk mix again to froth (won’t be as much froth this time) and blend. Pour into coffee cup, top with froth from original milk and serve.

My Thoughts:

This is a complicated recipe but very classy, and if I had any expertise I would add some latte art to this like you can see here in this tutorial. Alas, I could not get the knack for it. There are some great stencils out there too which are simpler, or follow this youtube video for make it yourself stencils if you are totally into DIY projects!

But for taste, the drink is very nice, not too much like pumpkin pie but a little, not exactly like chai either due to the added subtle flavour of the pumpkin, very much like a latte.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 Kids enjoyed this.
Taste: 5/5  Tasty.
Simplicity: 4/5  some work involved in the recipe, but not too much.
Ingredient finding: 4/5 ingredients easy to find, fancy equipment is optional and may take some traveling to get.

Virgin Mudslide

Virgin Mudslide. Takes a bit of work to get the genuine taste, but results are worth it.

Virgin Mudslide. Takes a bit of work to get the genuine taste, but results are worth it.

Two of my favourite flavours in liqueurs are Irish Cream and Kahlua. So some of the first experiments I tried was a way to replicate the flavour of these in a syrup without the use of alcohol.

Finding recipes for DIY Irish Cream was fairly easy, finding one that kept true to the flavour of my favourite Baileys was a little harder. In order to be true to science, I needed to test the recipe as it should be, as well as without the alcohol to make sure that the flavours remained consistent. So I now have a bottle of Irish Whiskey in my cupboard awaiting further use down the road, after using about two oz for testing. But it was worth the expense.

Here are a few of the sites I found if you wish to do your own comparison.

Top Secret.comBrown Eyed BakerSaveur and A Cozy Kitchen all used a combination of coffee, chocolate and vanilla along with cream or condensed milk.

BBC Foods Recipes, Cupcake Project and All Recipes.com added almond extract or essence into the mix. Each of these recipes is almost identical, calling for the same proportions of almond, coffee, chocolate and vanilla along with condensed milk and cream. The difference was in the cream, some call for light cream (18-30%% milk fat), or for heavy cream (36% milk fat) or for single cream (18% milk fat).

What I found was that these recipes all tasted pretty similar when followed with the whiskey. The difference was when the whiskey was withheld. See, the whiskey masks some of the more subtle flavours and dilutes the drink adding it’s own flavour and strength. When removing this strong element from the mix, the first list of recipes tasted strongly of mocha but not irish cream. The almond extract was the key.

Of the recipes online, the one that I fell in love with was from All Recipes.com which called for heavy cream or whipping cream. You can find the recipe here.

Virgin Mudslide

One of the most common drinks using both Irish Cream and a coffee liqueur is the Mudslide. This has been made into deserts, into shakes with the addition of ice-cream , and into slushes (called a frozen mudslide) with the addition of crushed ice. My goal was to create something that had the same taste as the original, or as close as I could get.

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into a glass and serve.

My Thoughts:

This is a sweeter recipe than the original, due to the concentration of both the syrups. The original recipe I worked with called for 1 part both liqueurs and vodka to 2 parts milk. Because the vodka was omitted and the syrups were more concentrated and thick, I needed to up my milk quantity in order to get a drink that wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. The coffee liqueur is also stronger that Kahlua is when it comes to the coffee flavour. In order to compensate I had to cut the coffee down from equal proportions of both syrups.

The final drink is very nice. Lacks the kick of the original which is more than half alcohol. But retains the essence of the drinks flavours. To dress it up I garnished the glass with shaved chocolate.

What did my kids think? “Mum, can you make this again?”

I tried this warmed up and served with whipped cream as a treat for my kids after a cold day in our snow filled world.

Pumpkin Pie Drinks

Pumpkin Pie Drinks. The favourite of the bunch: Pumpkin Pie Punch.

Pumpkin Pie Drinks. The favourite of the bunch: Pumpkin Pie Punch.

Jack-o’lanterns are as traditional in our home at Halloween as candy and costumes. The kids and I sit around on newspaper scooping seeds and guts, drawing designs and then I dutifully do the cutting so that my two kids save their fingers from injury. We’ve made up to four pumpkins some years, each one created by and reflecting the personality of the designer, often fun and silly, sometimes animals, and the first years more like a Picasso or modern art piece as I try to make sense of the scribbles and swirls that are supposed to represent eyes and mouth, ears and nose and sometimes hair. But it’s about expression, and the sky is the limit.

On halloween night while all the kids are out gathering an abundance of tummy aching, mind buzzing, mess creating candies from neighbours and friends here is a beautiful quiet drink to calm the mind and soul: Pumpkin Pie Punch

In order to come up with the best recipe, sans alcohol, I went first to see what people are mixing up. The common theme was to use pumpkin puree, vanilla (by way of vanilla vodka), simple syrup and whipped cream. Other additions included using a cream liqueur along with whipped cream. Pumpkin Lattes blend similar ingredients (pumpkin puree, milk, sweetener, vanilla) with pumpkin pie spice and coffee. Lattes are served hot and often recommend straining the pulp as part of the process.

So what to do? We tested four combinations.

The first was the most simple, designed to taste close to a pumpkin martini or a drink called the Smashing Pumkin. Both these can be found here. True to the technique of a latte I mixed pumpkin juice (strained puree) with half and half cream in a 3:1 ratio, splashed in some simple syrup for sweetness and a drop or two of pure vanilla extract. Like a cocktail, I shook this with ice and served it over more ice. One child liked it, but it was super mild and milky. Not really something great when the alcohol is removed.

Second test: add pumpkin pie spices, brown sugar and make something incorporating the pulp – thick and sweet. This was declared “like drinking pumpkin pie” and claimed as a contender. Ok. If it is gonna be like pie, it aught to have whipping cream on top and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg. Yummy!

2014-10-28-by-eye-for-detail-002-2Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

While this is called a smoothie, it doesn’t use ice cream, crushed ice or yogurt. The thickness comes in the pumpkin puree and the whipping cream.

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp Pumpkin Pie Puree (recipe below)
  • 2 tsp simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water)
  • 1 oz whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream
  • ground cinnamon or nutmeg
Procedure:

Mix first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a espresso cup and top with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of spice of your choice. Serve.

My Thoughts:

I loved this, and I wasn’t expecting to. The idea of drinking pumpkin puree cold seemed odd, not sure why after tasting it, since the taste and texture of this was delightful. Kids liked the drink, but it didn’t rate as the favourite for either of them. Second place for one daughter (the eldest) and hubby, didn’t rate for the youngest, and rated first for my choice.


Pumpkin Pie Puree

2 cups water
3 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Procedure:

When making fresh pumpkin puree, cut your pumpkin up into chunks and toss it into a large pot with plenty of water. Boil until tender and let cool. Peel the skins off the pieces and toss the pulp into a blender. Process until finely pureed. Measure out 3 cups for the puree next step and save the rest for other pumpkin needs (soup, cake, muffins, pies).

Next return the three cups puree to the pot, add remaining ingredients and cook until brown and bubbling (about 5-10 minutes). Remove from heat. Divide this batch in half. Use the full puree as is for Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, or strain a portion (about half) to make Pumpkin Pie Punch. (see below)


Pumpkin Pie Punch

Naming this next drinks was a challenge. What do you call a drink with no bubbles, no alcohol or no bitters? Well since pumpkin is a fruit (yep!) let’s call it a punch. This drink is very similar to the smoothie, but in order to try to remove the thickness added by the puree, I strained it and used just the liquid. The thicker pulp is destined for muffins later this week when my daughter and I work on some baking together.

Ingredients:
  • 3 oz pumpkin spice juice (Pumpkin Pie Puree strained)
  • 1 oz whipping cream
  • 2 tsp simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Procedure:

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Strain over ice into a old fashioned glass and serve.

My Thoughts:

The flavour of this drink is similar to the smoothie but the pumpkin is less distinct. The spices come across more strongly in this, as does the sweetness. I can see serving this with a cinnamon stick for a garnish (should have thought of that when I was shooting the picture) to dress it up, or serving it hot like the latte – for those who don’t like coffee.

My youngest preferred this option the best as did my husband. The other two family members gave it a second place. Of all the drinks this had the best overall rating.

The last drink we tried was a slush version of the smoothie. Because the flavours are very mild, this simply diluted the flavour and dulled the senses with the cold to the point where the drink failed to impress any of us. In fact it didn’t get consumed at all. So much for that idea! And why make things colder than they need to be at halloween, poor kids are out in the cold up here in the north, fighting snow and slush to knock on doors and say trick or treat!

If you see my kids – a black cat with silver ears and a purple caped action figure – ask them how they like being test subjects for their mom’s wild drink inventions. To the rest of you… Happy Halloween!

Italian (or not) Cream Soda

 

Whether or not they're truly Italian, these drinks are a big hit with all ages.

Whether or not they’re truly Italian, these drinks are a big hit with all ages.

If you were to google Italian Cream Soda recipes you would come up with a wealth of ideas based on the concept of mixing purchased flavoured syrups, soda water ice and cream in a glass in a way that lets the syrup sink, the cream float and the drink look five kinds of cool. Because these flavoured syrups work well in flavoured coffees, teas and cocoas, milkshakes, lemonades and cocktails as well as sodas; Italian Sodas and Italian Cream Sodas are often served in trendy coffee shops.

Interestingly enough in researching about Italian Sodas, the origins are not, well, purely Italian.

According to Quattro Formaggi and Other Disgraces on the Menu a site focussing on “food known as Italian food and the food of Italy”, Italian sodas (made with syrups and soda water) and Italian Cream Sodas may or may not have originated in Italy. According to the site “In Sicily, a traditional soft drink is made by adding fruit syrups (e.g.: lemon, orange, mandarin, chinotto) to sparkling or seltz water.”  and fruit syrups were also used over shaved ice or added to iced water in Italy to make a drink called granita. According to wikipedia “An example of an alternative to Italian soda that is really from Italy is the chinotto, a carbonated drink made from the juice of a native Italian citrus fruit called the myrtle-leaved orange or myrtifolia.[1]” 

Some sites suggest that Italian Sodas originated when two italian immigrants introduced flavoured syrups in 1925, in San Francisco, by adding their syrups to soda water. Other site such as Art of Drink suggest that American companies were already doing this. Wikipedia also suggests that cream sodas were made as early as 1852; and that a patent for cream soda-water was granted in the USA in 1865 to Alexander C. Howell, and in Canada a patent for Ice-Cream Soda was granted in 1886 to James William Black. You can check out more details of these patents here if you are interested.

One thing for sure is that mixing soda water and flavoured syrups has been around for over a century. And mixing cream into the drink, either known as the “Italian Cream-soda” or “French Soda” or “Cremosa” is not an Italian concept but still a good idea that has become poplar in North America.

So back to the research and into the lab – ok the kitchen but lab sounds cooler.

Going back to the original idea of “sodas” – as a drink mixed from home made syrups and club soda – I am taken by the idea. This is something that can be created – using easy to find ingredients available at any grocery store and I can control the sugar and preservatives. And what happens if the syrup is replaced by concentrated juices?

Oh the possibilities for recipes.

Torani.com has a huge list of Italian Soda recipes based on their syrups. Since I have orange flavoured syrup of my own on hand I check out their Orange Cream Soda recipe. With this recipe, as in most of their recipes, they recommend about 2 tbsp (1 oz) syrup to 1 cup of soda water. If making a cream soda add “a touch of cream”.

Going further, other recipes have increased the concentration of syrup, suggesting 3 tbsp (1.5 oz)  per half cup soda or 6 tbsp (3 oz) per cup in a website Butter With a Side of Bread, or at Brown Eyed Baker. Other sites like  allrecipes.com and Hersheys suggest  3 tbsp (3/4 oz) syrup to 1 cup soda water.

Our best bites has a great step by step explanation on how to mix the drink. The secret is to add the syrup, then the ice. Top with soda water and then a splash of cream. The ice keeps the mixture more separated, in theory.

Ok time to test drinks.

Cinnamon Orange Cream Soda

 

2014-10-17-by-eye-for-detail-014Adding the idea of juices to the concept. I came up with this dazzling creation.

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour cinnamon syrup, then orange juice and simple syrup into bottom of collins or shake glass (it should layer somewhat). Add ice to fill about 3/4 glass. Add 8 oz club soda and a splash of cream. Serve with straw and mix before drinking.

My Thoughts:

When I was a small child orange juice was my comfort food/drink. If my mom was already in the room, I couldn’t call “mommy” and realized that at some level. So I cried “orange juice”. To this day, OJ is one of my favourite drinks. Add a splash of cinnamon, a dash or milk and OH MOMMY!

The whipping cream is heavy enough that it floats beautifully on the drink, slowly mixing in to give a nice effect. The cinnamon syrup sinks and shows up at the bottom and the ice does the trick of keeping the layers separated when adding the soda water. Seems Our Best Bites was right!

What did my family think? It rated one of the better choices (with or without cream) for each of our family members.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 Both kids loved this
Taste: 5/5  Flavours work in perfect proportion
Simplicity: 4/5  Two recipes to make, one that takes a little time.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 It’s all in town baby!

Black Forest Cream Soda

2014-10-17-by-eye-for-detail-006

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour chocolate, cherry juice and simple syrup into bottom of collins glass. Add ice to fill about 3/4 glass. Add 8 oz club soda and a splash of cream. Serve with straw and mix before drinking.

My Thoughts:

This is a balancing act between the cherry and chocolate flavour. Depending on the concentration of cherry juice, you may need to tweak this slightly. I made cherry juice out of 1 bag frozen dark sweet cherries and 1 cup water (recipe below) which made a rich dark juice.

My youngest daughter didn’t like this when she tried it. She declared she doesn’t like black forest cake. So we told her it was chocolate cherry soda. She tried it again, and loved it. What’s with that?? Tried this both with and without the cream, we think the Italian soda (no cream) may have the edge over the Italian Cream Soda or French Soda version.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 one of two kids likes this in my family
Taste: 3/5 good when you get the right balance
Simplicity: 3/5 While drinking chocolate is easy to whip up, having all the ingredients made and at hand takes time.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 all available within town – small town that is!


 Cherry Juice Recipe
Ingredients:

1 bag (600 grams) frozen dark sweet cherries (I used president’s choice brand)
2 cups water – divided
1/2 cup sugar

Simmer cherries in 1 cup water for 15 minutes, strain using fine mesh strainer reserving liquid. Return cherries to pot and add remaining water. Simmer another 15 minute, allow to cool. Pour cherries, with the water they were cooked in, into blender and blend until liquified. Strain pulp reserving liquid. Discard pulp.

Add 1/2 cup sugar to liquid from both batches and return to heat. Heat just until sugar is dissolved and remove from heat. Cool and store or freeze in 2 oz portions (ice cubes) if you wish the juice to last more than 2 weeks.


 Cherry Jubilee Cream Soda

2014-10-17-by-eye-for-detail-012

Ingredients:
Procedure:

Pour juice and syrups into bottom of glass (collins for full portions or champagne glass for two smaller servings). Add ice to fill about 3/4 glass. Add 8 oz club soda and a splash of cream. Serve with straw and mix before drinking.

My Thoughts:

I served this in half portions in champagne flutes for added elegance and looks beautiful when cream is added.  When I first made this I used half and half cream which is normally recommended for Italian cream soda recipes online. The cream quickly mixed into the drink. Using whipping cream slows this process creating beautiful lines of white descending into the red of the juice – just the way it should look.

Kid-o-metre 4/5 Both kids liked this but it was not the preferred choice of the three.
Taste: 4/5 Lovely, but when I wasn’t looking my husband added chocolate!
Simplicity: 4/5 Two special ingredients to make up, again once prep is done it’s a cinch.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 No problem

In chatting with my hubby, who has never been a carbonated drink fan, he regularly ordered Italian Cream Soda’s when out with his buddies back in Vancouver, BC. His reason? The cream mellows out the carbonation making the drink enjoyable.

With both my kids and my hubby fans of this concept, I can see that we continue to experiment with flavours in the future, and as long as no more are called after a hated desert, I am betting of further sighs of happiness from my family.

Drinking Chocolate

Three drinking chocolate serving options. From left to right: Frozen hot chocolate, North Canadian Drinking Chocolate and Decadent Hot Chocolate Whip

Three drinking chocolate serving options. From left to right: Frozen hot chocolate, North Canadian Drinking Chocolate and Decadent Hot Chocolate Whip

Did you know that chocolaty beverages have been around for 2,000 and first made by the Mayas? Today, many cultures enjoy hot and cold chocolate beverages made from either cocoa or melted chocolate, sugar and milk. Additions such as vanilla, cinnamon and of course marshmallows have been introduced. The drink has come along way from the xocolatl that was said to be an acquired taste. Check out Wikpedia if you are a history buff and want to know more about the original drink.

When my kids were younger, hot chocolate before bed was a tradition. Powdered mixes or chocolate syrups were as common in my kitchen as milk and bread, and it took nothing for me to whip up two warm cups of cocoa and settle down to a story before bed.

Turn the clock back about two decades to when I was in France as a teen. Hot chocolate was served at breakfast with baguette and had a more elegant taste than I was familiar with back home.

So, when I started looking for a more sophisticated version of hot chocolate to use in virgin drinks, it was natural to research and find out what made this Parisian drink different from my kids night time beverage. Turns out what is drunk in France, and elsewhere, is called drinking chocolate. This beverage is made from milk or cream and melted chocolate and can be as thick as pudding (in Spain), or diluted with water and spiced (in Peru), and vary from creamy versions offered in bowls (in France) to strong and rich portions in demitasse cups (in Italy).

In order to make a chocolate beverage or ingredient in beverages I wanted something rich creamy but not too bitter. Here are a few recipes we tried as a family.

My first search results lead me to about.com which had a good step by step guide to the technique and a link to recipes.

Basic Drinking Chocolate

This recipe is simple, and can be found here. Take 3 cups milk and heat in a pot, add 6 oz semi sweet chocolate (chopped fine) and let melt. Pour and serve. Nothing to it. How did it turn out? Strong, not sweet, and not a hit with the kids. Ok for sweet drinks and mixed drinks, but not great as a stand alone.

Next!

Le Chocolat Chaud

This version of drinking chocolate uses some sugar, whole milk and may or may not be diluted with water. In attempt to get the first recipe more to an all ages palate, I chose to keep the recipe as similar to the first as possible for best comparison. So I added 2 tablespoons sugar, used the same chocolate again, and tried whole milk instead of my standard 1%. (I omitted the water from the recipe). The original recipe for French Hot Chocolate I used can be found here.

The results were better, sweeter but there was not enough creaminess for my family.

Back to the kitchen and back to the internet! Another recipe another test.

David Lebovitz offered a drinking chocolate recipe on his website davidlebovitz.com that called for 2 cups whole milk to 5 oz of chocolate and 2 tbsp brown sugar.  The result was much thicker, but still a bit too strong for my kids. What to do, what to do?

Add more cream.

While about.com suggests that Parisian Warm Chocolate is made with heavy cream and whole milk, I couldn’t find the recipe it wanted to link to. Thanks to Allrecipes out of the UK i found a recipe that suggests half double cream, half milk (half cup each) to 4 oz dark chocolate. This seemed more chocolaty but also richer in milk product but posed a problem. Double cream is 48% milk fat and is not available in Canada. Whipping cream is 36% fat. Ok so out comes the science and math! See Zoe, what you learn in grade 6 does apply to life!

Mixing Double Cream at 48% with equal parts whole milk at 3.25% makes a milk product of 25.6 milk fat. This is thicker that half and half (18 %) and thicker than whipping cream which were my two choices in town. Back to the math to figure out proportions.

North Canadian Drinking Chocolate

Here is the Canadian version and what I settled on as the best ever drinking chocolate tested so far. This is based on the various drinking chocolate recipes that use cream, but with the addition some cocoa powder and brown sugar, suggested by some of the recipes.

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cups whipping cream
  • 5 oz semi sweet chocolate (chips or broken up baking chocolate)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder (optional)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
Procedure:

Heat milk and cream in pot over medium low heat. When milk is warm add chocolate and remaining ingredients. Stir until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool or serve warm in demitasse glass with a splash of cream swirled in the top.

My Thoughts:

This produces a rich thick chocolate drink, with enough sweetness and strength to work in multiple recipes. Served cold it’s thick like pudding and needs a spoon, while warmed up it thins to drinking consistency. One recipe served four 3 oz demitasse glasses, made two warm chocolate drinks and I had enough to make up some frozen hot chocolate! It should last about a week, if your kids or you don’t get to it all first!

I served this to my guest tonight—all the way from Yellowknife (originally from South Africa) along with my daughter and hubby. All three gave the thumbs up on this creation. “Not what my taste buds expected” was the comment from my South African friend.

Kid-o-metre 5/5 jackpot!
Taste: 5/5 the perfect blend of dark chocolate richness with creamy taste.
Simplicity: 4/5. now that I have done the math for you, a cinch!
Ingredient finding: 5/5 all Canadian Ingredients, all easy to find at my small town store.

For some fun ideas with this drinking chocolate try the following.

Frozen Hot Chocolate

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
  • 6 oz North Canadian Drinking Chocolate
  • 9 ice cubes approx
  • 2 oz half and half cream
  • chocolate shavings
Procedure:

Blend Drinking Chocolate and 6 ice cubes in blender until finely chopped. Pour into two old-fashioned glasses, margarita glasses or martini glasses. Rinse blender and add remaining ice cubes and half and half cream. Blend until ice is finely chopped and spoon icebergs of frozen ice on top of each drink. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate and serve.

My Thoughts: 

This dilutes the flavour of the drinking chocolate to a milder taste but retains it’s flavour complex The result is a little more like milk chocolate with an edge of the original semi-sweet tone.

My husband figures this should be eaten with a spoon, or possibly a straw, or just give it a few moments, swirl and drink!

Decadent Hot Chocolate Whip

Makes two servings

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz North Canadian Drinking Chocolate
  • 8 oz whipped cream
  • Ground cinnamon for garnish

Half fill a coffee cup or specialty mug with hot drinking chocolate. Whip a batch of fresh whipped cream and generously top to fill the cup. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and serve with a long spoon. Tell them to stir and enjoy!

My thoughts:

When you stir the whipped cream into the warm chocolate, you get something very much like what the Spanish have for breakfast: warm chocolate pudding. This is great for guests who prefer a more creamy drink. If you prefer to keep the drink hot and more liquid, consider warming the cream and simply layering it on top of the chocolate below.