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The Holiday Season Has Arrived

A mug of hot chocolate is the perfect drink to channel the new holiday spirit. Photo by flickr user ndrwfgg.

Whether you mark it by the rainy weather or the fading of your tan lines, there’s no denying that the holiday season is definitely here. The holiday cups and flavors have returned at Starbucks, with old favorites and new surprises. Hot chocolate is the quintessential part of any holiday, but this year, brew up a new twist on the classic. Make these variations on hot chocolate for your friends and family and have a happy holiday.

Maple Hot Chocolate

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking cocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon maple flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 large marshmallows

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa and salt. Stir in hot water and butter; bring to a boil. Add the milk, maple flavoring, vanilla and 8 marshmallows. Heat through, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows are melted. Ladle into mugs and top each with a marshmallow.

Candy Cane Cocoa

  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 peppermint candy canes, crushed
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 4 small peppermint candy canes

In a saucepan, heat milk until hot, but not boiling. Whisk in the chocolate and the crushed peppermint candies until melted and smooth. Pour hot cocoa into four mugs, and garnish with whipped cream. Serve each with a candy cane stirring stick.

Spiced Chocolate

  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4 cups French vanilla flavored powdered coffee creamer
  • 2 cups Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground anise seed

In a large bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, coffee creamer, cocoa, orange zest, cinnamon and anise seed. Store in an airtight container, or separate into smaller jars for gift giving. To prepare, mix 1/4 cup of the cocoa mix with 1 1/2 cups of hot milk or boiling water.