The last few mornings here have been decidedly chilly. Fog hovers over damp grass. Maple tree leaves turn scarlet and gold. Wake-up routines begin in darkness. This means hot chocolate mornings.
May I present the steps to the perfection of hot chocolate on a cold, damp morning:
One envelope of hot chocolate powder (often this is a store-brand item)
3/4 cup milk
In 11 oz. mug, pour contents of envelope. Add milk (we use whole organic milk, again store brand). Microwave on high for 55 seconds. Anything less than 55 seconds and the milk isn’t hot enough, anything more and hot chocolate flows over the sides, and the morning routine shifts into clean-up mode. Sticky hot chocolate bits cover the glass plate in the microwave as well as the sides of the mug, which of course means less yummy hot chocolate inside the mug. This extra step makes me want to go back to bed and try again later, when the sun is up and the fog has lifted.
Stir hot chocolate with what we call the soup spoon. This is the larger spoon in our everyday silverware drawer. It’s perfect for picking up a few of the unmelted chocolate-y bits on top of hot chocolate. Stir just enough to get the powder swirling around, but not enough to make a completely smooth mixture (smoothing the mixture is to be customized by the customer, who is getting dressed and will emerge soon). Add an ounce or two of cold water and serve immediately.
Others have tried and failed. Any deviation from these steps and that morning’s hot chocolate barista looks like a maniac. This certain barista has been serving hot chocolate with love for a decade, so I have this routine perfected. Who knew something so easy had the capacity to get complicated.
It’s funny how the little things make a big difference between right and wrong. The right mug. The right milk. The right number of seconds for heating. The correct stir. The addition of water at the end. The ratio of milky foam-powder-liquid presented. The larger spoon for dipping. It all adds up to just right, people.
Have you turned a simple routine into something complicated? Are you the only one who can make it just right? Let’s hear it!
Last night, at my youngest daughter’s request, I searched around for an easy pretzel recipe. I wanted one that would remind me of Mellow Mushroom’s amazing pretzels. These babies are made with their pizza dough, so they are golden crunch-chewy-crusty the outside and pillowy-soft on the inside.They serve them crazy-hot with a side of yellow mustard and, man, these are good. We found ourselves there for lunch today, so we ordered the Butter and Kosher salt pretzels, mustard on the side. This should have satisfied the craving, only it didn’t. It might have made it worse. After a light dinner of veggies and hummus, I decided to tackle the craving with this recipe. http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/12/25/30-minute-whole-wheat-pretzels/
Frankly, I’ve been intimidated to make soft pretzels, but this recipe said it was easy. Sallysbackingaddiction was telling the truth. Thanks, Sally!
There are very few ingredients: fewer than it takes to make cookies. No, you don’t need to let the dough rise. You don’t need a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. You don’t even need a mixer. You can make it with whole wheat flour. Or not. It’s fast and easy. My dear husband wandered over and helped out with a minute or two of kneading, which prompted a few more kiddo helpers to step in and assist. Everyone had fun rolling out the dough and shaping it into pretzels. He dipped the pretzels in the boiling baking soda, which you don’t even have to do. Easy! We used parchment paper-lined baking sheets and kept a watch on the broiling and pulled them out just as they were browning. And, cleaned up. Hot, crusty, chewy, salty, soft pretzel-y deliciousness. Needless to say, the first sheet of pretzels, the salted ones, were gone before we remembered the mustard. The cinnamon-sugar with butter were ridiculously heavenly. There are just a few left. I’m already looking forward to having one with my morning coffee. Smiles!
Many thanks to Sallysbakingaddiction.com for simplifying my evening with this yummy pretzel recipe. Check out her site, it’s very inspiring.
My thought for the day: Sometimes, the simplest pleasures are the greatest.