Monday, January 10, 2011

Coconut-Almond Hot Chocolate

Although the snow our southern children were hoping for did not materialize in our region of Alabama last night, hot chocolate is still a perfect treat for a cold, wintry day. (Even if the only precipitation on the radar is rain.) I made this version today -- an attempt to recreate an Almond-Joy drink at a local coffee shop.

Almond-Coconut Hot Chocolate
Enjoy this decadent hot chocolate with a dollop of whipped cream, or give it the works with a sprinkling of toasted sliced almonds, toasted coconut flakes and chocolate curls.

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup boiling water
3 1/2 cups skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup half-and-half
Sweetened whipped cream
Toasted coconut, toasted sliced almonds and chocolate curls, optional
Combine cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Add the boiling water, and stir over medium heat until the sugar melts and you achieve a thick liquid. Stir in milk and heat until very hot, but not boiling. Stir in vanilla, almond and coconut extracts and half-and-half, and remove from heat. Divide the hot chocolate between 4 mugs. Top each serving with whipped cream. If desired, finish it off with a sprinkling of toasted sliced almonds, toasted flaked coconut and chocolate curls.

Toasted Almonds: Bake sliced almonds in a 325 degree oven for a few minutes until golden.

Toasted Flaked Coconut: Microwave flaked coconut in a microwave-safe bowl at 10-15 second intervals until lightly browned, stirring between each interval.

Chocolate Curls: Microwave a square of baking chocolate or almond bark for about 25 seconds. Then use a grater to shave chocolate curls. Let the curls fall onto a plate and put it in the freezer until the curls are firm enough to handle.

My husband and children don't care for nuts or coconut, but enjoyed this hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate curls. I wanted the works and enjoyed the mix of textures the coconut and almonds brought to the drink. 

Curling up with a cup of steaming hot chocolate is a wonderful way to warm up a snow day -- snow or no snow!
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