Haute Chocolate Gifting
My office has about 150 employees, all of whom work 14-16 hour days, 5 days a week, which is a good zillion hours more than I usually have to put on the clock. The holidays are the perfect time to send little reminders of your gratefulness for the year-long efforts of the hardest workers in your life (my mom was always a fan of leaving beer for the trash guys who, let's face it, need your thanks more than most). At Grimm, we cast have been throwing a festive (read: open bar) Christmas party as our gift to the crew every year, and I like to drop extra little treats to the people closest to me on set - literally - since wardrobe, hair, makeup, and PAs are tasked with my sweat, pimples, and overly specific snack demands on a daily basis. What they really deserve are cars. Season 6?
I found this incredibly easy hot chocolate recipe in Cook's Illustrated mag, which you need in your life in some form (they have a fabulous app) if you do any kind of cooking or baking. It's Betty Crocker meets Bill Nye the Science Guy. They test-kitchen the crap out of everything to bring you the very best, very most researched way of doing it all. I tried this recipe using a single-origin 100% cacao bar I found at The Meadow, and it was the most gloriously silky and rich cup of cocoa I'd ever sipped. I thought this mix, with the right primping and packaging, would make the perfect homemade gift.
1 cup sugar (Use coconut sugar if you'd like to make it 'healthy')
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate Here's where you can get fancy. Most grocery stores stock artisan bars, so experiment with single-origin varieties for subtle flavor differences in the cup. Reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe if you are using a bar with less than 100% cacao
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder If you can find the Dutch-processed variety like Droste, I highly recommend using. It results in a decadently rich, dark chocolate cup
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Marshmallows! I used puffs from Williams-Sonoma (on sale now!) because the shop is down the street from my place and I was short on time, but any hand-crafted version will make the gift adorable, like these beauties made in Portland.
Fabric Ribbon cut in 18-inch pieces
Mason Jars (pre-wash these before using)
In a Cuisinart (or high-powered blender will probably work fine) combine sugar, cocoa powder, dry milk powder, cornstarch and salt. While the Cuisinart runs, break unsweetened chocolate into small pieces and add one by one so as not to overwhelm the blade. Pulse or blend until the mixture is fully integrated, then add vanilla and blend once more.
This recipe makes about 4 Mason jars full of mix. If you need more, make it batch by batch. I tried to double the amounts and had a cocoa-covered kitchen in minutes (not the worst thing in the world).
Fill Mason jars with cocoa mix. Add marshmallows to cellophane bags, place a stainless straw on top, and tie with a piece of ribbon.
With the same ribbon, tie the marshmallow bag around the mouth of the Mason jar in a double knot. Type up or print a "recipe" card with instructions for the cocoa (1 cup milk per 1/4 cup of cocoa). Mine looked like this (I used Trattatello font on Pages):
Punch a hole in the recipe card, thread a gift tag through, affix all to the jar and voilá! Insta-present!