A Hot Pot of 'Sippy-Poo'
When she drank alcohol, my Aunt Ginny was fond of her afternoon "sippy-poo." Usually, this meant a Pink Squirrel, a sickly sweet concoction of white creme de cacao mixed with creme de noyaux, an almond-flavored red liqueur that gives the drink its signature Pepto-pink hue.
In spite of my aunt's affinity for psychedelic-colored beverages, I always like her turn of phrases, and as an adult, adopted her "sippy-poo" expression as my own. And at this time of year, when drinking and eating turn into sport, a light-hearted Aunt Ginny-ism is particularly fitting.
More than any other time of year, December holidays bring out the "sippy-poo" in all of us -- whether or not we drink alcohol. For the most part, I drink wine, but over the next few weeks, I'll cave to a glass of eggnog or something spritzy and sparkly. Let's face it: there's something festive and special about a beverage that requires a recipe. The choices are many, from
creamy, coconutty eggnog, Puerto Rican style to various renditions of the hot toddy.
The choices are just as glam if you stay away from alcohol, from the uber-fruity sodas (pomegranate, cranberry and blood orange, to name a few) out on the market to a juicy Cranbernet Sauvignon. (For more nonalcoholic party tips, check out this week's party tips in the Home section.
In spite of the bounty of elegant offerings, I'm still a sucker for a pot of homemade hot chocolate. With or without booze, a few sips of hot cocoa inevitably takes me back to a snow day of my youth. Remember those cold, crimson cheeks after a snowball fight?
The recipe below is a highly spiced, aromatic brew that feels like a chocolate chai. I can't make my hot chocolate any other way now. With all the circulation-boosting properties of the chile flakes, the cinnamon sticks and cloves, the infused milk also makes a wonderful antidote to a case of the winter slugs. And yes, this is a one helluva "sippy-poo."
P.S. You can make this in advance, and heat up when ready to serve.
To all who celebrate, may your Christmas and Kwanzaa days ahead be merry and bright. And to all of you, peace on earth. See you back in this blog space Wed., Dec. 27.
Spiced Hot Chocolate
From the March 2004 issue of Bon Appetit magazine
6 cups whole milk
¾ cup brown sugar
15 whole cardamom pods
12 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise pods
¾ teaspoon coriander seeds
¾ teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon vanilla
Pour milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add sugar, all spices and red pepper flakes. Cook on low heat to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, cover and let mixture steep for approximately 20 minutes.
Add cocoa powder and vanilla and bring back to a simmer, whisking until blended. Strain through a sieve, leaving behind spices, and pour into mugs.
Makes 6 servings. Recipe may be doubled.
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