Sunday, November 27, 2011

Foodbuzz 24x24 : The Great Hot Chocolate Party

Time flies fast's almost December and we are sharing our Thanksgiving Hot Chocolate party we had with our family friends as a part of Foodbuzz 24X24. This post is inspired by the hottest festive ingredient - 'CHOCOLATE'. And what better time to saveur "Hot Chocolate" than the advent of Winters.

A bit of History - Hot chocolate  or hot cocoa/ cocoa/ chocolate milk/ cafe au Chocolat in French) is a heated beverage typically consisting of shaved chocolate, melted chocolate or cocoa powder, heated milk/water, and sugarDrinking chocolate is made from melted chocolate shavings or paste, not as sweet and is a powdered mix that's soluble in water. The first chocolate beverage is believed to have been created by the Mayas around 2,000 years ago. The beverage became popular in Europe after being introduced from Mexico in the New World, and has undergone multiple changes since then (source : Wikipedia)

The special aroma of cocoa can lift your spirits and add gloss to any party. Todays menu for the party is full of great hot chocolate drinks. This Party was organized at our home in New Jersey & we created a Hot-Choco-Bar in our dinning area. No better way to name this party than what my son suggested "The Great Hot Chocolate Party"

For this Party we invited our Family friends who had kids of same age group as ours. All the Hot Chocolate recipes were served fresh from Hot Pot and with various Do-it-Yourself options available at a D-I-Y Hot Chocolate Bar.

Menu for the Party - Our menu included 7 great Hot Chocolate recipes from around the world.....!
  1. Mexican Hot Chocolate
  2. Peppermint Hot Chocolate
  3. Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
  4. Belgian Hot Chocolate
  5. Peanut Butter Hot Cocoa
  6. Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa
  7. Hot Chocolate on a Stick  

First thing to come of the Bar was Ina Garten inspired Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe, this was an instant hit & quickly disappeared of the shelves. Best thing I personally love about this concoction is addition of cayenne pepper. Its Hot Hot & Yum Yumm.... :)  Mexican hot chocolate was served with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer, so happy every one loved it. 

Time for a Kids only section - a Peanut Butter inspired Hot Chocolate with a DIY Ice Cream infusion activity. It is safe to say this was the most enjoyble part of the evening & I could see most Adults in the room finding hard to resist jumping in to join three happy kids :P

Kids Delight - Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate with Resse's Ice Cream

This was my Husband's Idea & the session at the bar was led by him, we used Hershey's Hot cocoa along with Salted Caramel Soiree, the bug Coffee mug was topped with some whipped cream, Caramel & a pinch of sea salt
Here's the recipe (inspired by Savoury Sweet Life)

3 tablespoons Caramel syrup, heated to luke warm (else use dulche-de-leche)
Hot Chocolate (4 tablespoons of 
ganache plus 6 oz. of milk, heated)
Canned Whipped Cream
Pinch of Medium Coarse Sea Salt
Method: -
Pour 2 Tablespoons of caramel syrup into a mug so the inside of the mug is coated well.  
Add hot chocolate and stir everything.  
Top off with with cream, drizzle with remaining caramel, and sprinkle with sea salt.

Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa, big & sinful !!!

Wittamer inspired, Belgian Hot Chocolate 

Ingredients: -
4 Cups whole milk
4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Method: -
Warm about one-third of the half-and-half or milk, with the chopped chocolates and salt, stirring until the chocolate is melted.
Whisk in the remaining half-and-half or milk, heating until the mixture is warmed through. 
Add the cinnamon.
Use a hand-held blender, or a whisk, and mix the hot chocolate until it’s completely smooth. 
Served very warm with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Light, creamy & Majestic - Belgian Hot Chocolate !

The most Innovative creative of the day was Chai infused Hot Chocolate served in Indian style earthen teapots.

Chai Infused Hot Chocolate

Peppermint Hot Chocolate was another Kids favorite and a big hit with everybody, the use of candy canes as stirrers was loved by all

Pepper Mint Hot Chocolate

And Finally - Hot Chocolate on Stick ! We had made these a day ahead as recipe calls for chocolate to cool down over night before cutting into square chunks served on tooth picks.
As one of the guests at the party commented, "A Fitting Dessert @ a Chocolate party".

All my guests went home happy & it was a very satisfying experience for us.
I will be sharing most of the recipes pretty soon in my following posts. 
Hope of you all had wonderful Thanksgiving parties at home with near and dear ones (followed by Friday shopping spree....)

Enjoy the festive Season and Stay Warm... !!!!!!

Hugs, Sonia

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Healthy yet Sinful - Oatmeal Cookies with Hershey's Kisses!

Hershey's Kisses, you love them or you hate them - I bet you cant resist'em. We were in Hershey's Chocolate World in Pennsylvania a few weeks back & my son brought back bags full of chocolate. We packed Kisses on the packaging line, made our own Hershey's Chocolate bars in the factory & loved the every bit of Hershey's story. Ever since I've been thinking of doing some thing creative with my Hershey's Kisses. So here it is - Healthy Oatmeal Cookies which is the our recipe today, inspired by Martha Stewart & tweaked to the palette of my boys who love anything with Hershey's Kisses.

                                     Featured on Foddbuzz Top 9 On 26th November 2011

This recipe is healthy with the goodness of oats, raisins, currants & eggs.

And we top these soft mushy cookies with our favorite Kisses to add the wow factor

1 Kiss, 2 kisses, 3 kisses & this keeps getting kissier as we keep adding Kisses to these healthy Oatmeal Cookies.

Soft & Sinful - You'd love'em !!!

Healthy, Sinful, Yummy....these cookies have all the attributes of a great Comfort food that both Kids and Adults will adore. Hope you'll try these a try & share with me how you did !!!

I'm happy to feature this post on Kankana's blog - Sunshine and Smile. She is a dear friend, a photographer  with a great sense of humor and great culinary skills. I'm sure you would fall in love with her space the way I did when I visited it for the first time.
So lets head over to Sunshine & Smile to read the recipe details.

Cheers,  Sonia

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fun with Beet Kanji - A great way to treat your beets !

Fall is a visual treat & I love the natural strokes of lovely colors on the trees right now. It's has been raining red, orange, yellow, purple and green leaves all over. Last weekend we went for a short trip to DC and the  Potomac river with its banks full of Fall foliage splendor, looked gorgeous. We picked leaves and pines to make our potpourri at home later that evening. It was both sunny and nippy, making it the best time to enjoy the natural sightseeing and do some shopping for the holiday season ahead. On returning back home, I was craving to have some healthy and flavorful drink in the colors of the fall to quench my thirst. I thought of making some fresh beetroot based drink, traditionally known as 'Kanji' . Beets, carrots and ginger are really good for health and glowing skin, especially in the winters. The colors are so great , its easy to mistake it as a great glass of Red Wine & the flavors are amazing - little tangy & a bit biting. So here the recipe of refreshing and completely rejuvenating drink- Kanji.

Featured on FoodBuzz Top9 on 11/15/2011
Beet Kaanji is the best way I love to have beets, you hv best of both worlds here !

Beetroot : 1 (Thinly sliced)
Carrots: 1/4 cup (Thinly sliced)
Ginger: 1/2 tsp, grated
Mustard Powder: 2 tsp (Available at grocery store, else use mortar to make fresh from mustard seeds)
Salt: 1 tsp or to taste
Pepper: a dash
Water: 7-8 cups

The kanji is best made and stored in a glass jug or earthen pitcher.
Thoroughly wash, peel and thinly slice or julienne both the beets, ginger and carrots.
Toss it with salt, mustard powder and a dash of pepper.
Add plenty of water, ~7-8 glasses and cover the pitcher with a muslin cloth.
Keep covered for 3-4 days at room temperature.
If possible, let the jar get some some direct exposure to sunshine, this will enhance the colors & flavors.
Make sure you stir the mix in the jar once in a day.
Slowly but surely, the mustard powder starts turning our mix into a sour & tangy drink.
Kanji should be ready in three days when beets leave their lovely shade and flavor to the water.

Top Shop - Color is lovely & flavors are amazing ...

Love the color... it's easy to mistake it for Red Wine !!!

Feel like fishing my beets out, Lovely & Submerged !

Its very important that the jar is not over exposed (beyond 3-4 days) to ambient conditions, and as soon as the it is ready we need to chill it to make sure we dont get any form of uncontrolled fermentation.
To store Kanji keep it chilled in the refrigerator and enjoy it with your afternoon meals or anytime.
I like to leave the beets/carrots within the juice and eat it later.
If you dont like'em then sieve'em out before serving.
It's a truly rejuvenating thirst quencher.... !!!!

These pickled beets are amazing ... go digg'em out !!!

I love to fish out & eat these crunchy pickled beets as an appetizer.
There are crunchy, juicy & little sour - great great combination of all things I desire in a appetizer.

Beauty in Red,  do you disagree ???

OK this might sound silly, I wasn't prepared for this but still I attempted a pour shot from a distance.

... an Amateurish attempt at pour shot :)

We loved our Kanji drink & have been enjoying the same for past few days.
Hope you like the presentation & will share with me your feedback

Thanks for all the love... Hugs, Sonia

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