Cocoa Mill’s Hot Chocolate

Every time it snows my children have come to expect that they will be served hot chocolate after they return indoors from their winter excursions. Not just any hot chocolate mind you, but homemade concoction using their Father’s chocolate; Cocoa Mill’s milk and dark chocolate.  I can guarantee when I place the warm cups of cocoa in front of them they will ask: “Did you make this with Daddy’s chocolate?” the answer is always “Yes.” and there are smiles all around.

Being that it is 3 degrees outside today (but no snow) I thought it would be fitting to share this homemade hot chocolate recipe.

 

What you will need:

4 cups of whole milk

3 oz Cocoa Mill Dark Chocolate

3 oz Cocoa Mill Milk Chocolate

3 Tbsp granulated sugar*

3 tsp. vanilla

6 Tbsp powdered sugar*

1 pint heavy whipping cream

Chocolate shavings

You will also need a mixer capable of whipping cream.

Process:

1. Warm milk in a sauce pan over low heat, (be careful not to boil the milk). When steam begins rising from the milk add your 2 types of chocolate, 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla and 3 Tbsp of granulated sugar. Continue cooking over low heat until chocolate is melted and well blended with the milk.

 

2. Place whip cream in a bowl and add 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar whip with a beater until the cream forms stiff peaks when the beater is removed. Cover and place in refrigerator.

whipcream

There are so many ways you could adjust this recipe, add Bailey’s Irish Creme for an adult beverage, add 3 Tbsp of coffee (or more) for a mocha-chino, add some caramel syrup on top of the whip cream just for an added yum. Let us know what variations you come up with!

*You can also substitute  truvia for sugars or another sweetener to decrease caloric/carbohydrate in take.

You can save the additional hot chocolate mixture for up to a week in the refrigerator and reheat as needed.

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Easy Chocolate Chess Pie

My Family loves homemade desserts and I am up for the task as long as it is not too labor intensive. I had never made a chocolate chess pie before but remembered enjoying it a few years ago. Lucky me I had all the ingredients on hand and the pie making began, (and was all gone within 3 days!)

This pie is quick and easy and if you are chocolate lovers like my family then this is the dessert for you!

Filling Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar

5 oz dark chocolate

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup milk

3 large eggs

1/3 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 9″ pie crust

 

 Crust Ingredients:

2 cups ground oatmeal

1/4 cup sugar

5 tablespoons of softened butter

 

Instructions:

Place the oatmeal in a blender and chop until finely ground (you can also use nuts or cookies that have been crushed). Pour the oatmeal 1/4 cup of sugar in a 9″ pie pan and mix. Add the 5 tablespoons of butter and mix thoroughly, press mixture until flat and it covers the base and walls of the pie plate.

In a sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and chocolate stirring constantly. When completely melted remove from heat and add the sugar, salt, and flour stir until well blended. Let this mixture rest about 5 minutes then add the vanilla, milk and heavy cream, stir vigorously for 2 minutes. beat the eggs and slowly add one at a time until completely incorporated into chocolate mixture. 

 

Pour the mixture into the pie crust and bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes. Let cool before serving. Top with homemade whipped cream and Enjoy!

 

 

Thanksgiving Carrot Cake

Thanksgiving Carrot Cake

carrotsraisin

pecans

white choco chunks

In the fall my family longs for the taste of spiced goodies, this cake fits the bill. It is quick, easy and I feel good knowing that all the ingredients were placed in the mixing bowl out of pure love. I hope that you too will find that this recipe brings the taste of Fall to your family’s table and will remain a staple for years to come.

Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups of sugar

1 cup olive oil

½ cup butter (room temperature)

4 eggs (well beaten)

3 tsp. blackstrap molasses

2 cups of unbleached flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. ginger (ground)

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup raisins (multi-colored)

4oz white chocolate chopped into chunks

3 cups grated carrots

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven 325 degrees

Mix sugar, eggs and molasses, add the oil and butter blend well. Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl and mix. Once blended add to the wet mixture and blend well. Add the carrots, raisins, pecans and white chocolate blend well until all is mixed thoroughly.

Place into 3 greased 9” cake pans for about 30 minutes.

Once baking is complete let cool and remove from pan.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 sticks of butter soften

2 packages of cream cheese

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream (can use milk instead)

Blend the butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add the powdered sugar, lemon and heavy cream. Whip until light and fluffy.

Frost the layers of the cake, placing one on top of each other. Frost sides, and top. Store in the refrigerator to keep fresh.

carrot cake

Happy Fall & Enjoy!

Thoughts for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

The ancient Greeks held an annual spring festival dedicated to honor the maternal goddesses Rhea. The wife of Cronus, Rhea was the mother of many deities of Greek mythology.

Ancient Romans also celebrated a spring festival, called Hilaria dedicated to the mother goddess Cybele. Ceremonies in honor of Cybele began some 250 years before Christ was born. The celebration was held on the Ides of March by making offerings in the temple of Cybele,  this festival lasted for about three days.

Mothering Sunday, from the UK is the most recent celebration, dating back to the 1600’s. This Christian festival was once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, it fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent, it was a time when people would return to their “mother church”. (Much like homecoming that is celebrated in churches today when people return to their home church for a special service and a meal afterwards).

Mothering Sunday eventually took a more secular route when children would present their mothers with gifts and flowers to show their appreciation. Mothering Sunday eventually faded out but regained new life when it merged into the American born Mother’s Day in the 30’s and 40’s. In World War II servicemen would purchase trinkets to send back home to their Mother’s or wives.

In 1872 Julia Ward Howe (writer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic) suggested in her “Mother’s Peace Day Proclamation” that Mother’s Peace Day be celebrated on the second Sunday in June. This was to be a day that Mother’s would stand united against war and be dedicated to peace.

Around the same time  Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia began holding meetings taught local women how to properly care for their children. These meetings became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” where mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

The efforts of Ann Reeves Jarvis’ daughter Anna Jarvis gave birth to the official Mother’s Day holiday in the 1900s. After her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother’s good faith efforts as well as all good Mother’s sacrifices. She used financial backing from a Philadelphia store owner named John Wanamaker and proceeded to organize the first Mother’s Day celebration at a church in Grafton, West Virginia. Seeing the success of the first Mother’s Day celebration she set out on a long journey to make the celebration a National Holiday.

By 1912 many States and churches celebrated Mother’s Day. Jarvis finally succeeded in her quest when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day  in 1914.

Anna Jarvis had envisioned Mother’s Day as a personal day for families where they could gather together and spend time making precious memories. It wasn’t long after Mother’s Day became a national holiday before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity. This infuriated Anna Jarvis, she spent all her personal assets fighting to have Mother’s Day removed as a National Holiday because it had turned into something entirely different from her vision. By the time of her death in 1948, Anna Jarvis was penniless and confined to a sanitarium.


From Goddesses to penniless, motherless widows, Mother’s day has seen great extremes. Mother’s have fought and struggled throughout the years to make this world a better place for their children to grow up in; they are ever persevering the face of adversity, sacrificing in times of want and above all loving in all circumstances.

Celebrate the Mother you love and those who have loved you this Mother’s Day.

Beautiful Mother's Day Box of Assorted Chocolates

Information for this article gathered from History.com and mothersdaycelebration.com and cocoamill.com

Sweets For Your Sweet

A brief history lesson before we delve into the sweet reason of Chocolate on Valentine’s day…

St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus.  The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”
– Aristotle

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.)

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
– Lao Tzu

Our infatuation with chocolate first began 2,000 years ago when it was discovered in Latin America. The Maya and Aztec elites infused cocoa beans with water to form frothy chocolate drinks – the first frappuccinos, if you will – for special occasions and as sacrifices to the gods. The Aztec ruler Montezuma believed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac and routinely drank it before entering his harem, thus increasing chocolate’s popularity and its association with love and romance. As it turns out, he was ahead of his time. Modern-day scientists have linked the chemical phenylethylamine in chocolate to feelings of excitement, attraction and even pleasure.

“Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

 Christopher Columbus saw how the Aztecs revered cocoa when he entered the picture in the sixteenth century and immediately took the luxury product back to Queen Isabella of Spain. Chocoholics sprouted up all over Europe, sharing the legend of their new obsession’s alleged mythical powers. At one point in time, chocolate was believed to be so potent that nuns were forbidden from eating it and French doctors used it to treat “broken hearts.”

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.
– Zora Neale Hurston”

So whatever your reason is for celebrating Valentine’s Day make sure that your heart is filled with love and your hands are filled with chocolate.

This information was collected from the History Channel and from other sources.

 

Milk Hazelnut Truffle vs Dark Hazelnut Truffle

The series continues with The Milk Hazelnut Truffle and The Bittersweet Hazelnut Truffle. This truffle is very sweet with light nutty undertones. Crisscrossed white chocolate stripes adorn this simple but pure treasure, letting you know there is more than chocolate to be desired in this round ball of decadence.

These two truffles have the same hazelnut base flavor and both have milk chocolate centers. The hazelnut paste that is used in this truffle is made from crushed hazelnuts, nothing more, nothing less. These two initial observations may cause you to think this truffle is best when enjoyed in milk chocolate, because of the milk centers. You may also ask since they have the same base what is the use in comparing them? Let us delve a little deeper into this natural goodness that is The Hazelnut Truffle.

The Milk Chocolate Truffle is very sweet but balances nicely with the earthy hazelnut flavoring. The flavor delivered in this truffle is very natural and it almost has a woody quality in taste, but is smooth as velvet in texture.  This truffle pairs nicely with a cream sherry such as Amontillado. This sherry is noticeably darker than other sherries. Amontillado offers notes of  hazelnuts and even light cedar, enriching the earth tones already present in the truffle. When these two are a paired the flavor changes a bit giving up more of a roasted hazelnut with a hint of honey. This is a complex sherry that opens up as it sits in the glass, it is one of the most prized sherries for the connoisseur. When coupling the Anmontillado and the Hazelnut Truffle it creates an experience that will be cherished all the more.

The Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle still has the same the same center with earthy natural undertones but when dipped in the dark chocolate you loose a bit of the sweetness. The dark chocolate only enhances the woody, earthy  flavors creating a stronger hazelnut experience. This truffle pairs nicely with Ethiopia Amaro Gayo  coffee. This coffee offers a date and pastry spice aroma, with raspberry, citrus, and chocolate flavor notes. This is full-bodied coffee leaves you with a winey fruit and cocoa finish. Combining these flavors offers you a deeply sensuous chocolate experience.

I hope you will enjoy these two pairings. If you try them please let us know what you think.

Simple Pleasures

Nothing brings me greater joy than to see the smile of a child. I am fortunate that I get to see this on a daily basis. In the chocolate shop where I work children press their faces up to the glass cases and carefully select their piece of chocolate, they look to their guardian for approval, when they say “Yes, you may have it” the child’s smile lights up the room and their little body is full of joy and anticipation waiting to receive this simple pleasure.

There are many Americans without work these days, that is why I am thankful for the  job I have. It is really hard to live in a country where we have so much that it often leads to wastefulness. I look around in my small hometown and there are more homeless people, more hitchhikers and more people loosing sleep because they are wondering how they are going to make it through another day. Now I don’t want to get all political, that is not the intent of this blog. I am making simple observations about our life in America these days.

As the manager of a small business that has struggled the past four years to keep its doors open I have seen the hurt and hardship on people’s faces as they watch the cost of goods go up and the size of the goods go down. I also see many people doing without the simple luxuries of life that used to bring such joy. This is a sad thing to watch.

I have learned that to be successful you have to believe in yourself. I have heard other’s tell me: “You won’t make it”. “You can’t keep your doors opened”.  “Your ideas are ridiculous and won’t work”. I knew we had to keep going, we had to think outside of the box and not listen to the nay sayers. Negativity never got anyone anywhere. Doing the “same old thing” isn’t going to be” the next big thing”. In our company we  figured out that when you invest in yourself and in your dreams they will not return void. We are not a multi-million dollar company but our doors are open and we are able to pay the bills. We have recently expanded to another city and it’s only because we believed we could do it.

We have a heart for a reason, we dream dreams for a reason and it isn’t so that we can walk around and be miserable all day everyday. I believe that finding the smallest things in life can bring pleasure even in this day and age. The sweet smell of a flower, the taste of chocolate, the sight of a rainbow in the sky or maybe that unmistakable smell of rain before it falls to the ground. There is so much beauty in this life that we miss by just not paying attention. I believe that we are in control of our lives. Step outside of the rat race and see the beauty that awaits you.