Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you’re having the celebration you always wanted to have today. We’re having a wonderful, quiet day, and we couldn’t be happier about it. It’s funny, we spend so much time preparing for the big day, and when it finally gets here, we just want to collapse and relax….
Our day started off with some magnificent Spiced Hot Chocolate (recipe below), that included my favorite holiday spice, nutmeg. No other spice reminds me of the holiday season like nutmeg. Whenever I smell it, I automatically think Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Nutmeg comes from the ground seed of tropical evergreens found in the islands in the Indian Ocean. No wonder I love it, it’s tropical in origin. Growing up, we only had the canned, ground version of the cheapest brand available in our grocery store. I liked it, but I learned early on from older family cooks that grating the seed yourself brought the best flavor. I’ve been hooked on it since I was a little girl. I also think the design that comes out as your grate the nutmeg is pretty.
Nutmeg was one of the most popular spices our European ancestors brought with them to the “new country” back in the days of the Pilgrims. It was pricey, but those that could afford it used it as commonly as we use black pepper today. The ultra hip European would even carry their own nutmeg grater. I’m nowhere near hip enough, but I’d love one of those.
My Grandpa would make us eggnog and sprinkle a little nutmeg on it from this can of Rawleigh’s. This is the actual can and it’s older than I am, but I still have it and a little bit of its contents. I refuse to use those contents….because I’m afraid too. But, I keep it on the shelf anyway, just to remind me of Grandpa….
…not the can’s typo-friendly text. Though it does amuse me (it’s not the only typo on the can)….
…anyway, back to nutmeg, and today’s special treat, Spiced Hot Chocolate.
To make 2 eight ounce mugs you’ll need:
- 2 cups almond milk (I use the vanilla flavored almond milk)
- 2 pinches of ancho chili powder
- freshly grated nutmeg to taste
- 1 cinnamon stick (or a pinch or two of cinnamon)
- 2 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate
Put all ingredients, EXCEPT the chocolate, in a saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture just to the brink of a simmer over medium heat. Once it’s almost simmering, remove the saucepan from the heat, cover, and let everything steep for 10 minutes.
While the milk mixture is steeping, chop the chocolate into small pieces. When the 10 minute steep is done, add the chocolate and stir or whisk. I find an immersion blender (or an aero-latte) works best – just pulse it a few times in the mixture and you’ll have a wonderful, frothy, hot chocolate.