Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cute Champagne

A while back I reading a magazine and saw these cute little cans of pink champagne. I immediately went to the local wine shops but no one carried it. My sister went to her favorite wine shop and they gladly ordered it. I love everything about it! The box is pink and fun...

...and the cans are so cute.

I still have two left and I'm not sure that I will drink them. They look too cute sitting in my fridge.

They even come with their own little pink straws!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Well it was one heck of a holiday season. Can't say I'm sad to see it in the rear view mirror. It was fun but oh so tiring and oh so fattening. But I had to sneak it one more treat. I stumbled upon hot chocolate on a stick after the holiday shopping was done and read about it here and here and here. I knew I had to try it! So I whipped some up and am giving some to my neighbors and a few others for early Valentine's Day gifts.

I've been making homemade marshmallows for some time using Martha's recipe found here. They are fabulous but always a bit sticky so I decided to try Alton Brown's recipe found here. I was much happier with these and I think I'll stick with this recipe in the future - they were more cohesive and easier to cut and work with.

If you try this recipe, make sure you follow it exactly. The first time I tried it I attempted to use some chocolate I had on hand and it didn't quite set up properly. The second attempt came out perfect. These little suckers are delicious by themselves too! (Note bottle of wine in background - while not mandatory, it doesn't hurt to have a little sip while creating your chocolate masterpieces).

Here is the recipe I followed:

Hot Chocolate Blocks
Originally from King Arthur Flour

1/2 cup heavy cream
One 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or in chips (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips)
4-oz bar unsweetened chocolate cut into smaller pieces (I used Bakers)
Wooden or cookie/lollipop sticks (I used wooden popsicle sticks I had on hand)
8x8 pan lined with parchment paper
Heat the cream and sweetened condensed milk over medium-low heat until it starts steaming, stirring periodically. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes, then put back on medium-low heat and stir with a whisk until chocolate is completely melted and shiny. I put a tsp. of vanilla in prior to whisking. Pour chocolate into prepared pan and level.

Let sit overnight (at least 12 hours - don't try to cut it sooner - trust me!).

Remove chocolate from pan and cut, top side face down, into squares. Heat the knife under hot water, wipe dry, make two or three cuts, then reheat knife.
Place a marshmallow on top of each square and push the stick in. That is it! When it comes time to enjoy - just heat 4 - 8 oz. of milk and swirl the stick until the chocolate is melted and incorporated.

Much as the other bloggers, I packaged them in individual cellophane bags (I had these on hand and purchased them at a cake supply shop but I believe Joanns or Michaels also carry them).

I used the lunch bag idea of another blogger but used the brown bags I already had on hand. I printed heating instructions (lifted from here) on card stock and added a Valentine clip art image and trimmed with shears. Then I simply folded over the bag, punched a hole and tied with some red ribbon. You can see I was rushing to get this done by the height difference in the bags!

Overall this was a super easy, fast (save for the 12 hour set-up time), and inexpensive recipe. Perfect for winter gift giving - hot chocolate isn't just for Christmas! I'll be delivering these to the neighbors this evening, surely they will think me mad for giving Valentines already but I couldn't wait to give this one a try. Let me know if you do too!

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