Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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All photos by Ray Hydrick

Apparently, Old Man Winter decided to visit the South early this December. He basically shows up at your house like Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation and empties his chemical toilet in your storm drain…but what can you do, he’s family. I’ll tell you what you can do, make the best of it by preparing a few warm-the-soul drinks that, in some cases,  make you forget he’s even there. I’m talking about a classic Hot Toddy for the adults and a little Mexican Hot Chocolate for all to enjoy.

When I told Ray that I was making a Hot Toddy, like any good Mississippi State fan, he just huffed and rang his cow bell in my face. Then I reminded him that a classic Hot Toddy was not a cheer from a rival school but rather a warm and soothing drink made of hot tea, lemon, honey and a little “spirits”. He was all ears after that explanation. I researched that there are several versions of Hot Toddies. One only uses bourbon, hot water, lemon and honey. Another uses rum. There was even one made with gin – called a Gin Toddy (not a fan). I find this a little harsh for my taste, so I decide on the classic toddy made with bourbon and hot tea – a black tea to be precise. You can see from the picture above that I decided to add cloves for a little spice. You can certainly leave it out if you don’t want some clove up in there.

Classic Hot Toddy
1 cup boiling water
1 tea bag, I used black tea
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 lemon (a wedge)
1 oz bourbon (one regular shot glass)
2 cloves (optional)

Add your tea bag to your favorite mug, pour over your boiling water. Let steep for 3 minutes. Remove the tea bag and add the honey and cloves, squeeze your lemon, then stir. Add the bourbon and stir. Enjoy!

With enough of the Classic Hot Toddies, you won’t even know Old Man Winter is there…or even where you are for that matter, so drink responsibly. LEGAL NOTE: Kitchen Mischief is not written by doctors nor do they play them on TV. I have been told by my parents and others that this Hot Toddy was usually given to help with chest congestion and coughing when they were sick, so basically a tasty NyQuil we all can enjoy.

Ina Garten vs. El Piggly Wiggly
Recently I found in the Mexican section of my local Piggly Wiggly a delightful treat – Mexican Hot Chocolate.  For those who haven’t had this yummy concoction, it is basically a rich hot chocolate with a touch of cinnamon.  I have been playing it lazy and using the powdered version; it is made by Nestle so it has to be good.  But I noticed recently there is a block-chocolate version that has to be melted into milk.  A little more effort but worth it.  When I say a little more effort, I mean it ask you to use a blender or hand-blender.  Whaaa?  It seems that this chocolate uses real 60% semi-sweet chocolate and sugar so it can become grainy, hence the blending.  I made it and it taste good. Follow the directions on the box.

Don't ask me to translate

A couple of tips for you:

1. Chop the chocolate into pieces for easier melting.

2. Once melted in the pan, still use some sort of blender. It really does help.

I thought I was set with my winter drink of choice, but low and behold my culinary goddess, Ina Garten, made her version of Mexican Hot Chocolate.  It, too, was good but yowza! is it ever rich.  Here is her recipe:

Ina Garten’s Mexican Hot Chocolate
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, such a Lindt, chopped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Smallest pinch cayenne pepper
Long cinnamon sticks for stirrers, optional (I didn’t use)

Place the milk and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, stir in the chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper with a wooden spoon and allow to steep for 3 minutes. Reheat the hot chocolate over low heat until it simmers. Strain the chocolate into a measuring cup and pour into mugs. Stir with cinnamon sticks, if desired.

To both the store-bought and Ina’s recipe, I add some whipped cream and shaved chocolate on top. The store-bought version was a little “thin” on richness of the chocolate and has more of a fake cinnamon after-taste, but I would make again just for me in a hurry. Now if I was to entertain guests, I would certainly make Ina’s version. It is just as easy to make and it is VERY rich.  Like drinking liquid chocolate pudding.

Yes, it tasted as good as it looks.

So what Old Man Winter has shown up a little early.  So what that he brought bone-chilling cold and face-biting wind.  You now have ways of fighting off this uninvited guest, all provided by your friends at Kitchen Mischief.  Just a word of caution: if you decide to make a Hot Toddy (or four) for yourself, please hide your phone – we don’t need any drunk texting or facebooking to get you in trouble.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you. 😉

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One Response to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

  1. Jamie Says:

    It is perfect weather for hot chocolate. Add Bailey’s and it can be a “toddy” too.

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