Tuesday, December 6, 2011

'Tis the Season for Hot Chocolate!

The beginning of winter means different things to different people—hope for snow, the impending winter break and an end to the misery that is finals, heartwarming Christmas songs—but for me, it signifies that it is once more socially smiled-upon to drink hot chocolate. Hot chocolate, a drink generally delegated to children, once possessed both nutritional and status-related value in Europe and South America. Before cocoa powder and chocolate candy bars were invented, chocolate was only consumed in a thick, liquid form. Following the extraction of the cocoa oil, chocolate’s value as a solid food grew, in part supplanting its use as a beverage. While hot chocolate continues to be drunk today, its consumption in the U.S. at least is mostly restricted to colder months and younger people. That should not deter anyone of any age from enjoying this special drink, however, and to add a little spin on the familiar ingredients you could try one of the following add-ins! Hot chocolate is a wonderful treat that you can adjust to your own taste. Here are a few additional ingredients—some more creative than others—that fellow Penn students recommend:

The Classics
Whipped cream

The Spices
Chile pepper

The Caffeinated
Coffee (mocha)

The Candies

The Fruits and Nuts
Coconut Milk
Hazelnut (Nutella)
Orange (rinds or melted chocolate)

The Adventurous
Peanut Butter
Black licorice

And if chocolate isn’t your thing but you are still looking for a warm, seasonal beverage, you could try hot vanilla! Boil milk on the stove (or microwave), add a few drops of vanilla extract, and cinnamon and sugar to taste!

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