Harvest on Hudson – The Winter Warm-Up

by Marcie Cuff

Hot CocoaWell, the holidays have quickly passed us by. I only hope that wherever you spent them, you were with the people you love, eating the food you adore, and singing your favorite holiday songs. And I hope that, at some point, somebody handed you something sweet and warm to drink when you walked in the door.

Every year around this time—well into the winter season, but long after winter has lost its charm—we predictably get a cold snap full of brisk winds and a thin film of ice on every outdoor surface, and suddenly we’re catapulted into the longest chill ever. We are well into winter hibernation now, and the entire month of January in New York requires its own family-friendly elixir that pairs with chili, lasagna Bolognese, sweet potato casserole and holiday cookies. For this, I offer up this sweet, warm antidote adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen.

Homemade Hot Cocoa

(makes 8 cups): 1 cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 6 oz semisweet chocolate 1 cup cocoa powder 1 tsp vanilla extract ½ tsp sea salt

To Make: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until powdery. Or, just chop the chocolate until it’s fine and then stir in the remaining ingredients. Keep the mix in an airtight container at room temperature until spring arrives.

To Use: Heat up one cup of milk in a saucepan until it’s steamy. Add 3 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix. Whisk over heat until the mix completely dissolves. Pour it into a mug and top it with marshmallows and fresh whipped cream.

This drink is just the perfect thing for when you’re feeling positively wintered-out. Added bonus: it lacks the bad stuff—corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, artificial flavor—that commercially packaged varieties have. It really is the absolutely best remedy for a brittle winter day.

Marcie Cuff lives in Irvington, works at the NY Botanical Garden, and is the author of “This Book Was a Tree”(Perigee Books). For more ideas like this, look for her book at any bookstore, or visit her blog Mossy at http://mossymossy.com.

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