Hot Cocoa with a Twist

My latest assignment from Bigelow Tea was to develop some tea-infused chocolatey treats. It’s wintertime, and although as I write this we’re having a heat wave and lots of rain here in Connecticut, I’m still inspired by ski weekends, afternoons at the skating rink, and my kids sledding in our front yard.  Those thoughts lead to one of my very favorite cold-weather drinks… hot cocoa!

I’m not talking about Swiss Miss here…I mean REAL, HOMEMADE HOT COCOA.  It’s not much more difficult than making the pre-mixed kind, but that tiny bit of extra effort is rewarded with a kick-a$$ cuppa cocoa.  I decided it would be best to steep the tea bags right in hot milk (whole milk makes the yummiest mug of cocoa), then add my cocoa powder and sugar.  Black teas gave more flavor than the herbal varieties, but the herbals are generally caffeine-free, which is something to consider when serving the wee ones.   I tried lots of teas, including cinnamon tea (almost like a Mexican hot cocoa) and mint tea (yum), but my favorite was the raspberry tea.  Raspberry and chocolate is a classic combination, and I loved it in this drink. 

When choosing cocoa powder, I opt for “Dutch process” cocoa, which gives a smoother, more chocolately flavor with less acidity.  You don’t need to go to a specialty store for this anymore…even companies like Hershey’s makes Dutch-process cocoa, which can be found at all major grocery stores. 

Try this cocoa with a tea-twist!

Raspberry Hot Cocoa

Makes 2 – 8 oz mugs

2 1/4 cups whole milk

4 tea bags, raspberry flavored tea (I used Bigelow®  Raspberry Royaletea)

2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder

2 tablespoons sugar

In a small saucepan, heat milk until piping hot but not boiling.  Add tea bags and steep for about 3-5 minutes.

Remove tea bags, squeezing gently to remove excess liquid.  Add cocoa powder and sugar and whisk vigorously to combine. 

Divide into mugs and serve with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

Photo above from bigelow.com

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