December 13, 2011

Stuff We Love: Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate has been a big part of my life.

There was that time when we took a full day layover in Vail, Colorado on the Spread the Love tour in 2010, just so I could try some hot chocolate that I had only seen a picture of. It was from this place called Rimini and they called it cioccolato. And, it was….amazing.

There was that time in Paris during my year abroad, when some friends and I stayed in a questionable little flat at the base of Montmartre. We had to pay in cash, and I’m pretty sure we were just staying in someone’s home. But every morning, they would bring us chocolat chaud and croissants with real marmalade. It was heaven. The only thing that would’ve made it any better, was if they sang Lady Marmalade when they delivered it. But I guess that would’ve been pushing it.

There were those countless times in high school during the November & December football games, when a styrofoam cup of watered down Swiss Miss from the boosters club was all that stood between us in our cheerleading skirts and certain hypothermia. I guess they figured frostbite & amputation didn’t really scream Go Fight Win. And once my friend Erica discovered the genius that is dunking a Snickers bar in hot cocoa, we were all pretty happy. Slightly less frozen….and happy.

And of course, there were all those times growing up. When you’d put on seventeen layers of clothes just to go out sledding for fifteen minutes. Where your toes and fingers would go completely numb, while the rest of you was sweating bullets and the scarf wrapped twelve times around your neck threatened to suffocate you. So you’d lay in the snow on your back and stare up at a bright white sky while you tried to cool off. Red nosed and out of breath, you’d go back inside and start to peel off the layers. While your mom put milk on the stove and dug in the cabinet for the mini marshmallows. And even then as it was happening, you somehow knew… those were the moments you were going to remember forever.

Yes, hot chocolate has been a big part of my life.

And like all the things that make life sweeter, you just want to take the time to remember them. And to, of course, share that sweetness with others.

So we thought we’d run a contest. :)

Tell me your favorite hot chocolate associated memory in the comments section below, and one lucky commenter is going to win a canister of some of my favorite hot chocolate of all time: the peppermint hot chocolate from Williams Sonoma. It is truly divine. And…..GO!!

  1. sarah danaher

    I just bought some new hot chocolate at Trader Joe’s for a small gathering I’m hosting tomorrow night. excited to try it and see how it measures up to others. =)

  2. Jennifer Medeiros

    For me, it isn’t the type of hot chocolate that triggers memories, but the fact that instead of using marshmallows, my grandmother would put a spoonful of Fluff in our cups of hot cocoa after all of us cousins played out in the snow. Sooooo good!

  3. Jil

    *hands down* from Angelina at 226 Rue de Rivoli right next to the Tuileries … I still have dreams about that hot chocolate I had (4 years ago!) … it was a meal unto itself and pure heaven!

  4. Diane Poff

    We used to take a thermos full of Hot Chocolate to the field behind my grandmothers house where we went sledding, there was a creek at the bottom of the hill, and if you didn’t jump it on the sled you would end up in it, so we needed the Hot Chocolate to keep us warm.

  5. oneshotbeyond

    This is so bad but completely true. I would order a hot chocolate and fries at the restaurant Cocco’s while growing up…every time I went there. I don’t know why my grandmother let me do it, but it is those memories of indulging in comfort foods while my grandma and her friends enjoyed time catching up with one another that I will forever cherish. Give a kid some hot cocoa or fries and they are good to go…right?! I still love both and peppermint in coffee or cocoa is heaven!

  6. Barbie

    I was out of hot chocolate and had promised my daughter some. I made hot chocolate milk but fancied it up with other ingredients alon with mocha peppermint coffee creamer, marshmallows, whipped cream, AND sprinkles!! She said it was her favorite day ever, because of that and putting up the Christmas Tree!

  7. Sarah Ramer

    When I was younger I was a hot chocolate in the summer and ice cream in the winter kind of a girl. Just recently have I learned to get my seasons right…I still enjoy hot chocolate by a camp fire though, no matter what the temperature.

  8. Jessica Horton

    I lived in a wonderful neighborhood out in the sticks growing up… we had the most amazing hill to sled on. Like you, we’d go out for 15 minuets and then go racing inside for hot chocolate. My mom used to make her own special mix. She had to make a huge batch and store it in one of those plastic cereal containers because we’d go through it so fast! Another memory is last new years, we went out with friends & everything was too crowded, cold and loud. So, we went back to a friends home where she had homemade hot chocolate with HOMEMADE PEPPERMINT MARSHMALLOWS!!!! OMG. Heaven :-)

  9. Maggie

    My siblings and I would spend hours outside…sledding, snow forts, snowball fights, snow angels, etc. When we came in all sopping wet and couldn’t feel our fingers and toes, mom would make us giant mugs of hot cocoa and serve it with graham crackers on the side. I miss those days :)

  10. Astrid

    when my brother and i were little, we actually tried to make our own version of "frozen" hot chocolate. our family lived in a small apartment, and every time it snowed, we woke up excited and immediately went to making chocolate milk. from here we poured them into our own cups, went out on our balcony where we buried them in the snow. we tried to wait 20 mins and by then we pretended that our "chocolate milk" had turned into "frozen hot chocolate". why we didn’t just put them in the freezer i will never know, but either way we were excited! not exactly a "hot" chocolate story but thought it might be close enough :)

  11. ashley barnett

    My favorite memory is the anticipation of waiting for the milk to warm on the stove… and popping marshmallows in my mouth the entire time :) I’m so glad someone else makes hot chocolate with milk… it’s the only way!

  12. Kathryn Denelle Stevens

    Mary, your sentiment about lying in the snow staring up into the sky before running into the house, brings me right back to the time when I put all my rain gear on (I did live in Portland after all) and went outside twirling around with my umbrella in hand, trying to get some air — Mary Poppins-style, and then fell to the ground laughing and just stayed there, staring up into the sky letting the rain hit my face. Children are inherently "in-the-moment" beings, but it was the first time I remember thinking to myself, "just stop for a minute and take it all in". It was this mix of child-like wonder and thoughtfulness that I long to return to… Needless to say, I was soaked after about 15 minutes of lying on the wet grass in pouring rain…I hopped up and ran inside where my mom made mexican hot chocolate which today is absolutely my favorite!

  13. Lindsey

    I have always loved Hot Chocolate and of course during Christmas, Winter, and Snow Days, but I have to say the memories that stand out the most are the ones that happened ironically during the summer. When I was little, my family would go camping in the mountains a lot and having hot chocolate by the fire at night when it got cool while my mom played guitar and my dad sang is a precious childhood memory of mine. More recently, I spent this summer in El Paso, Texas with some Mexican families who introduced me to "Abuelita" – a brand of a Mexican chocolate drink that’s very similar to Hot Chocolate, but it has cinnamon and other delicious spices in it. Since the summer, I’ve been making Abuelita regularly for my housemates and friends at college, and it really makes college feel like home when we all share hot chocolate together! Needless to say, your post about Hot Chocolate is spot on. :)

  14. Julia R

    I remember my favorite hot chocolate moment so clearly! Senior year of college, some friends decided to put together a ski lesson and day on the slopes for about a dozen Sudanese refugee children who had just resettled in Vermont. I joined in the fun as a way to help the kids get to know their new community. We got to the top of the slope after our lesson, and I started shaking with fear! It was no bunny hill! By the time I gathered my courage, the fearless kiddos were already at the bottom of the slope ready for more. I made my way down, and fear turned into exhilaration, then to joy! I skied with the kids all afternoon, and when we were done, we had the most delicious, satisfying hot chocolate together in front of the fire. The kids were amazing in so many ways and it was a privilege to meet them & help them settle in to VT life :-) Thanks for the chance to share the story!

  15. Ashley B

    My favorite hot chocolate memory is my mom making a huge batch of home made hot chocolate, and bringing it to me in a giant glittery snowflake mug while I was taking a bubble bath after playing outside in the snow when I was a kid. She used hot milk and would melt milk chocolate Lindt truffles in it (TRY THIS!). Then, she’d add a big dallop of Marshmallow Fluff that would be a big bobbing glob of gooey goodness floating at the top of my cup. I felt like a princess, and to this day bubble baths and hot chocolate are one of my favorite winter time combinations.

  16. Sarajane Case

    I def. have my fair share of cheerleader skirts and watered down swiss miss memories. But, the story that stands out the most to me is this:

    When I was a kid, my brother, his best friend, and his sister all wanted to have a picnic. I was the youngest and the only one who needed permission to be included in such an event. So, I wanted everything to be PERFECT! I made sandwiches, packed snack packs, cut veggies, and everything. The thing that was going to seal the deal was that I went the extra mile to bring hot cocoa! This was going to make me one of the group for years to come. I packed everything up and met the rest of them a 1/4 mile away from my house and unpacked our picnic to realize I’d forgotten the hot water for the cocoa. I started crying and told them how the cocoa was going to be the best part. That’s when my brother opened up the pack of swiss miss and ate it plain. He told everyone how delicious it was and that he’s glad I didn’t bring the water because this was much better. That was the beginning of years of him having my back!

  17. Tracy

    This place in Paris called Cafe Angelina has the most divine hot chocolate ever. It’s like melted chocolate pudding and they serve it in a fancy cup and saucer with real whipped cream served in a silver container. It’s just heavenly and well worth the $8 for a cup and the half hour wait to get in!

  18. Elizabeth N.

    There are a few things that always happen when the hubby and I go on a vacation. It is always raining and the town/city is always overrun by Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks (Usually Dunkin Donuts. Have you seen how many they have in Boston?). So sharing a cup of hot chocolate has become an important part of vacation for us.

    The one problem we have though is figuring out when the hot chocolate is safe to drink. When is it still hot but not hot enough to burn the tongue?

    For our anniversary we were in D.C. and ran into a Starbucks and, of course, got a hot chocolate to warm us up. The cup was so hot I was using it to warm my hands, sure it was too hot to drink. Then when it began to cool down a bit I finally deemed it safe to drink. But low and behold it was almost cold.

    And so it always goes, we either burn our tongues or drink cold hot chocolate. But I love it every time.

  19. Kristen Wheeler

    Well I have a lot of favorite hot chocolate memories, but how about the most recent? I have two special mugs (well HAD anyway) that were pink and had little owls sitting on the handles. These were the hot chocolate mugs for those special moments with my husband watching horror movies while curled up on the couch. I was in a kind of a bad mood one day and my husband thought it would be funny to put one of the mugs on his head and balance it like a sword dancer to make me laugh. Just as I said "You might not want to……" it tumbled off his head and broke…….broke as it hit the OTHER mug and broke that one too! So he broke BOTH of them beyond repair, my two favorite matching special hot chocolate mugs. Still to this day he is searching for them on the internet so he can get out of the doghouse……..LOL.

  20. Lauren Wakefield

    Girrrrrl…next time you are in Chicago I will take you for some hot chocolate that will knock your socks off…and you scarf and your hat. On that note…I think I’ll go get some right now. :)

  21. Mia Bjerring

    Me and my mom were at the mall and we were exhausted from walking around finding presents for Christmas and decided to sit down for a little treat! And we got the most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted (yet). It was so delicious, and I still long to get more haha
    Ps. I’m quite new to your blog, but I really love it!! :)

  22. Cydney Irby

    I’ve had the watered down hot chocolate at football games before but I definitely wasn’t a cheerleader! That’s not my fondest memory though. My favorite memory of hot chocolate has to be a couple years ago. We have a fireplace that we rarely ever light at home but I kept begging my mom to let us light it. Finally, she just gave in. This is about two weeks after we had decorated the house for Christmas so everything looks beautiful. I turned on some water for hot chocolate, pulled out the Swiss Miss (Marshmallow Lovers, our favorite), and got a blanket from my room upstairs. After the water boiled, I got myself a cup and went downstairs. I didn’t have on any music or a book. I just quietly sat downstairs cuddled up on the couch near the fireplace, sipping on hot chocolate and enjoying the warmth of the fire. It was just so lovely and if our chimney had been cleaned out this year I would definitely do it all over again!

  23. Grandma Ina

    Don and I were up in the mountains in Spain. At sea level it was nice and warm, so we didn’t dress for freezing weather. The icy wind went right through our clothes. Every time we passed a cafe, we stopped in and had a hot chocolate! I think we drank about 8 cups each before it was time to go back to our hotel!

  24. Jessica Hayth

    I’m from Northeast Ohio, where you get lake-effect snow and school gets cancelled for a month… and you root for the Cleveland Browns. My favorite memory involving hot chocolate was bundling up in layers upon layers of warm clothes and going to the Browns game with my dad and my grandpa. It was before the days of checking everyone’s bag and making sure you didn’t bring ANYTHING from outside that could be bought from a concession stand, so my dad would bring a thermos of coffee for himself and my grandpa to share and a thermos of hot chocolate for my sister and me. I remember not being able to feel our toes or fingers but as soon as my dad would hand us that metal top turned mug full of hot chocolate and we’d take a sip, you could feel the warmth from the inside out. Every time it gets cold and I drink hot chocolate, this is the memory I think of the most.

  25. angela sackett

    hands-down best memory: every year, we make a batch of peppermint hot chocolate and pile in our mini-van with our five kiddos… dressed in our jammies with the windows down, we drive through a local neighborhood which has the most amazingly-obnoxiously-wonderful display of lights… complete with maps and arrows to guide our way, we go slowly with the headlights dimmed and windows down; we listen to Tonic Sol Fa – our favorite a capella Christmas album – and enjoy the Florida breeze blowing through the windows. it’s the closest we get to winter and it’s my forever-favorite family time!

  26. Katie S

    i would have to say hot chocolate with my mom & sister growing up, mom would buy us the jet puffed marshmellows i would stuff them in my mouth and put them in my hot chocolate. :) good times!

  27. Gail

    Like you, I think it’d have to be memories of being a kid and sledding and coming inside to a piping hot cup of the stuff.

    Or, more recently, making a homemade batch to share with my husband as a thank you when he comes inside from shoveling the drive, his cheeks all rosy from the cold. Love that man!

  28. Jessica Wray

    I am sad to say that I can’t remember a favorite one. As a kid or anytime. My kiddos are 3 and almost 2 and so I haven’t even started it with them, either. I know it would be cool to be drinking it during the "hot chocolate" part of Polar Express! This movie lives in our DVD player ALL year long. Love my kiddos!

  29. Susan Evans

    Well you know this is right up my alley, cuz I blogged about how I’ve recently discovered the wonderful idea of putting flavored coffee creamers in my hot chocolate. Right now my 2 favs are Almond Joy creamer from International Delights and Bailey’s creamer. Mmm mmm, it makes me warm inside thinking about it. But my favorite memory – like yours – involves sledding. One of my friends in Junior High lived close to the local park, where there was a big sledding hill. So after a long afternoon of sledding (which was a blast!), we all walked to her house and peeled off our wet snowy clothes. Her mom had a huge pot of hot chocolate (made with milk, of course) on the stove, and she served us all a cup with – now get ready for this because it changed my life! – a blob of MARSHMALLOW CREAM on top!!! Oh my goodness. That’s the best! That’s a great memory – I’m glad you made me recollect it, Mary! Good friends, toes warming up under a couple pair of socks, fingers warming up around the cup. Oh yeah!

  30. Erin

    I was born and raised in Memphis, but both my parents families are from "up north." In the winter when I was younger, we’d make the trek up to Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania about once a year to visit our family members. And when we’d come visit, other family members who lived near would migrate to the city we were visiting. (It made sense since we were the only ones "down south.")

    One year, we were visiting my aunt and uncle in Cincinnati. My grandmother, Memother, had come in town for the week, as well. I remember it being so cold and being surprised one morning to wake up to snow flurries. When I made it downstairs, my Memother was standing over a HUGE pot on the stove, stirring it ever so slightly as she spoke with my mom and aunt. It turns out, she was making homemade hot cocoa, and to this day, I use her recipe. Whenever I drink hot cocoa, I think of her.

  31. Brooke Summer Photography

    I realize I’m WAY behind in reading and too late for the giveaway, but I loved drinking hot chocolate and watching the Parade of Lights in Denver when I was little. :)

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