Friday, December 18, 2009

I Wanna Give the World Hot Chocolate for 2010

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

“Hot chocolate here is an intense chocolate indulgence." -- Barbara Fairchild

I love Sheryl Crow's song "Every day is a winding road..." Yesterday was a better day (for me) for a while. I woke up and wrote an article about how pets provide healing powers for humans. That piece made me feel good. A sprinkle of emails from editors requesting my new book The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Kensington, due to be released on December 29) made me feel even better. Later, the resort pool/hot tub was all mine and the tempertures were perfect. It's still quiet at the Lake. The snow is melting, for the most part, and black ice isn't an issue (or so I thought). The dogs got a good walk and all was normal--almost...
In the afternoon my sibling announced that he put snowmelt on the ground surrounding the back house. Yikes! My mind began to race: "I walked back there!" "I must have brought in the toxic stuff all through the house." "Are the pooches licking their paws and ingesting that stuff?" "Will they get sick?" A call to the vet (the number is memorized). A quick online search to discover the dangers of icemelt to pets. It was a stressful hour--for me not the canine duo. But it turns out the type of icemelt used wasn't the "safer" kind but it wasn't the worst type either. In result, the dogs and I will survive.
Speaking of survival, winter is on its way, coming on December 21. It's the shortest day and longest night of the year. (Probably the perfect day to have a cuddly mate or two dogs.) So those seasonal blues are starting to kick in, sort of. I just read a short online article about feng shui for seasonal blues. Suggestions that I'm tweaking and putting into action asap this weekend: Cascading houseplants; grouping and hanging pots and pans; have something cooking on the stove/oven; make your cozy corner cozier: near a fireplace; a soft throw (or two); piles of books; turn on nature sounds or your fave music; and savor a cup of something hot and good for the body, mind, and soul. A cup of hot cocoa, anyone?
Do you know that quality dark chocolate can boost physical energy, enhance brainpower, and help you to destress during life's ups and downs? It's true, according to the sweet research sprinkled throughout my chocolate book. Last year this time I was researching chocolate like it was a frog in biology class. The way I see it, each chapter was similar to taking a class in college. And yes, I was eating chocolate, too. It helped me get through the challenge of digesting it all (not the truffles, the chocolate information about going from bean to bar).
This morning I'm craving a cup of good hot chocolate. And it's so easy to prepare for one, two or a group of people. This time around I'm trying a gourmet brand that I purchased and haven't tried. (The well-known brand is in the chocolate book, though. The company did send me a large box of chocolate bars last year. Ah, those were the days.)
Hot Chocolate
1-1/2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup 2% low fat organic milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or a cinnamon stick
1 dollop whipped cream (without trans fats)
dark chocolate curls or shavings (optional)

Mix cocoa and sugar into a saucepan or a mug for convenience. Pour milk. Stir. Heat on stovetop or nuke it. Once hot but not scalded remove from stovetop or microwave. Sprinkle cinnamon and top with cream or a big marshmallow (these are fat free, low cal) and a dash of dark chocolate.
The end result? I've done Hershey's at home to an array of luxury brands of cocoa including MarieBelle (it boasts dark chocolate shavings) and even purchased thick, creamy European style cocoa at Starbucks. This one? It's nice. Not too rich. Not too sweet. It's a nice start for the day. Uh oh. Just read a new storm is coming around the mountain (80% probability) for Monday. Maybe it's a ploy to get the tourists here for the holiday. If not, I've got a whole container of cocoa powder to get me through the next week. A toast to hot chocolate and the challenges of 2010.

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