Welcome back to Easy Desserts,
Hard to believe we just have a couple of blogs left until we start 2017! Where has the year gone, feels like it was last month I was sharing my Spumoni recipe with you. Well, anyways I have some unique desserts planned for you this month and I might have another opportunity to have my Munchkin help me out in the kitchen for a special Christmas recipe.
I would love to make other seasonal desserts for this holiday loaded month, but making 3 for SupaCute Desserts will totally keep me busy without including all the desserts I need to make for family gatherings and work events. Don’t get me wrong, but I do love this time of year when the kitchen smells like a bakery, but there’s only so much that can be done. The smells remind me of time when my Nana was alive and my Mom and I would bake some of our Italian favorites with her. I love learning about other cultures and traditions, so hopefully I’ll get to share some in the New Year.
When thinking of what plastic cups to use this month the choice was made clear upon hearing the Christmas Carol, “Tis the Season to Be Jolly” or in this case Joli. 2 of 3 desserts I have planned for you will be using SupaCute’s Joli cups.
Contrary to its ho-hum, sometimes even junk food reputation, real chocolate is an incredibly complex substance, containing 400-500 different compounds. Among those compounds are several with mind and body-boosting benefits. With that being said let’s start our December dessert of Hot Chocolate Mousse, but like always I have some history to share.
Hot Chocolate Vs Hot Cocoa:
Before we start I’d like to make clear the difference between “Hot Chocolate” and “Hot Cocoa”. At my first job as a barista, after learning the difference between Lattes and Cappuccinos, the next thing I learned was Hot Chocolate vs Hot Cocoa. In short, I was told Hot Chocolate is made with milk and melted chocolate; while Hot Cocoa is made with water and (cocoa) powder.
Chocolate begins as cacao seeds (often referred to as cocoa beans) that grow in pods on the bark of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. These seeds are then fermented, dried, and roasted. The shells are removed, leaving the cacao nibs. The nibs are crushed into a thick paste called chocolate liquor (despite the name, it does not contain alcohol), which is made up of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The ancient peoples of Mesoamerica mixed this paste with water to make a highly-prized beverage.
Chocolate was made this way and consumed almost entirely as a drink until 1828 when Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented a process that could separate out most of the fat — the cocoa butter — from the chocolate liquor, leaving a dry cake that is then pulverized into cocoa powder. Before undergoing this “Dutching” process, the nibs are treated with alkaline salts to neutralize their acidity, mellow the flavor, and improve the cocoas’ miscibility in warm water. The end result is “Dutch cocoa.” “Natural cocoa” is that which does not undergo this Dutching process.
To make quality solid chocolate, cocoa butter is re-added to the chocolate liquor, along with other ingredients like sugar, vanilla, and milk.
So, hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, either Dutch or natural and hot chocolate is made with little pieces or shavings of solid chocolate. The latter is sometimes also called “drinking chocolate.” Both are delicious.
History of Hot Chocolate:
During the Classic period of 460-480 AD, the Mayan tomb of Rio Azul, Guatemala, had vessels with the Maya glyph for cacao on them with the residue of a chocolate drink inside.
To make the chocolate drink, which was served cold, the Maya ground cocoa seeds into a paste and mixed it with water, cornmeal, chili peppers, and other ingredients. They then poured the drink back and forth from a cup to a pot until a thick foam developed. Chocolate was available to Maya of all social classes, although the wealthy drank chocolate from elaborately decorated vessels. What the Spaniards then called "chocolatl" was said to be a beverage consisting of a chocolate base flavored with vanilla and other spices that were served cold.
Because sugar was yet to come to the Americas, xocolatl was said to be an acquired taste. The drink tasted spicy and bitter as opposed to sweetened modern hot chocolate. As to when xocolatl was first served hot, sources conflict on when and by whom.
After defeating Montezuma's warriors and demanding that the Aztec nobles hand over their valuables, Cortés returned to Spain in 1528, bringing cocoa beans and chocolate drink making equipment with them. At this time, chocolate still only existed in the bitter drink. Sweet hot chocolate and bar chocolate were yet to be invented.
After its introduction to Europe, the drink slowly gained popularity. The court of King Charles V soon adopted the drink, and what was then only known as "chocolate" became a fashionable drink popular with the Spanish upper class. Additionally, cocoa was given as a dowry when members of the Spanish Royal Family married other European aristocrats. At the time, chocolate was very expensive in Europe because the cocoa beans only grew in South America.
Eventually, sweet-tasting hot chocolate was then invented, leading hot chocolate to become a luxury item among the European nobility by the 17th century. In 1657 the first Chocolate House (an establishment similar to a modern coffee shop), chocolate was still very expensive.
During the Revolutionary War, medics administered the beverage to wounded, sick or tired soldiers to expedite their recoveries, and soldiers themselves were allotted small portions of chocolate in their military rations to make the drink themselves. Thomas Jefferson was so impressed with the drink that he wrote to John Adams in 1785 saying, “The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the preference over tea and coffee in America…” As we know, Americans did not end up trading in their morning cups of Joe for hot cocoa, but the drink remained a valuable source of sustenance for Americans in future military conflicts. During World War I, volunteers from the YMCA set up recovery stations near the battlefields to assist and comfort fatigued troops; warm cups of hot chocolate were staples at these stations. Americans fighting in World War II were also treated to the hot drink when cocoa was added to some of the military’s field rations in 1944.
In addition to rejuvenating soldiers battling the enemy, hot chocolate was also used by explorers battling the elements. In early 20th-century expeditions to the North and South Poles, hot chocolate provided warmth, nutrients and energy boosts to weary explorers.
What You’ll Need:
24 mini candy canes
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon peppermint baking pieces
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
optional: 72-120 mini marshmallows
optional: 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Unwrap the mini candy canes and attach to the side of the cup.
Whip the heavy whipping cream in a bowl until medium stiff peaks form. Chill in the fridge until needed.
Melt the chocolate and peppermint baking chips in a heat proof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
(you may melt the chocolate in the microwave at 50% power in 1 minute intervals, stirring between each interval)
In another heat proof bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks (using a total of 3 yokes), and sugar, until a pale yellow. Place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water and continue beating until mixture is warm to the touch (scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary).
Remove the bowl from the heat and continue beating until the mixture comes off of the whisk in thick ribbons and had cooled to room temperature. Slowly fold in melted chocolate into the egg mixture until it’s well combined.
Get the whipped cream and fold about 1/2 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream, being careful not to over beat it. Over beating can cause it to loose its volume. Pipe into Joli cups leaving a few of inches to decorate the tops then chill for at least an hour.
Crown the mousse with a dollop of whipped cream or sprinkle in a few marshmallows and the peppermint baking chips.
This mousse gets very stiff so be sure to put straight into the cups, so try not try to pipe them a day or so later. Aim for serving them the day you make them.
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Until next time …