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Make yourself a cup of hot cocoa

My mother always encouraged her children to cook. So when I found a recipe for hot chocolate on the side of the Hershey’s Cocoa can, it was easy to convince her to let me give it a try.

What I discovered was that hot chocolate doesn’t have to come from an envelope.

This recipe has been a favorite of mine to make on days when cold weather has convinced me stay home and off the roads. It’s the perfect way to spend your time and have a nice hot drink to warm you up on those chilly days.

You can also dress up your hot cocoa with peppermint and/or schnapps.

FAVORITE HOT COCOA

Serves 4 to 6.

• 1/2 c. sugar

• 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

• Dash of salt

• 1/3 c. hot water

• 4 c. milk

• 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

• Whipped cream or marshmallows, optional

Directions

Mix sugar, cocoa powder, salt and water in a sauce pan. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil (about 2 minutes). Stir in milk and heat. Bring the hot chocolate to the desired temperature but do not boil. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract. Divide into mugs and top with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 143 Fat 2 g

Sodium 97 mg Sat. fat 1 g

Carbs 27 g Calcium 210 mg

Protein 6 g Chol 8 mg

Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 milk, 1 other carb, ½ fat.

SLOW COOKER PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE

Makes 14 cups.

Note: From the Food Network.

• 3 c. powdered sugar, sifted

• 2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 12 c. whole milk

• 2 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 tsp. kosher salt

• 8 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped

• 24 peppermint candies, crushed (about 1 c.), for serving

• 3 c. mini-marshmallows, for serving

• 2 c. peppermint schnapps, optional, for serving

Directions

Whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder in a 6-quart slow cooker. Turn cooker to high, and slowly whisk in the milk to prevent lumps from forming. Add vanilla and salt, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours. The sugar and cocoa powder should be completely dissolved.

Whisk in the chopped chocolate a little at a time until it is all incorporated. Replace the lid, and cook until thickened, 30 minutes more.

Turn cooker to warm and serve with small bowls of the peppermint candies and mini-marshmallows and a small pitcher of schnapps, if using. For minty cocoa, let a few teaspoons of the peppermints melt in an 8-ounce cup or add 2 tablespoons of schnapps.

To spike the whole batch, whisk 2 cups peppermint schnapps into the cocoa just before serving.

Nutrition information per 1 cup:

Calories 496 Fat 15 g Sodium 280 mg

Carbohydrates 88 g Saturated fat 8 g Calcium 264 mg

Protein 10 g Cholesterol 22 mg Dietary fiber 5 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 milk, ½ bread/starch, 4 ½ other carb, 3 fat.

PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE HOT COCOA

Serves 1.

Note: From hersheyskitchens.com.

• 2 tbsp. sugar

• 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

• Dash salt

• 1 c. milk

• 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

• Whipped cream or marshmallows (optional)

Directions

Mix sugar, cocoa powder and salt into large mug.

In separate microwave-safe container, heat milk on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until very hot. Carefully and gradually add milk to dry mixture. Stir well. Add vanilla extract. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 230 Fat 4 g

Sodium 250 mg Sat. fat 2 g

Carbs 44 g Calcium 320 mg

Protein 10 g Chol 12 mg

Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 milk, 2 other carb, 1 fat.

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