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Cup of Hot Chocolate

Warm Drinks

Finding Inner Warmth in the Cold Season

by John Raven, Ph.B.

The human body is a remarkable piece of work. One thing the body really likes is to be kept at the temperature of 98.6° F. In the winter, steps have to be taken to keep the temperature adjusted or things just fall apart. The body can be kept warm by two ways.

One is containing the heat generated in the body by the living process. This heat is kept in place by covering the body with various garments and a "gimme cap". (Gimme cap definition: headgear resembling a baseball cap with advertising on it. Usually worn backward by persons under 30 years of age). The other way of maintaining temperature is to warm the body from the inside with a warm drink. This works very well.

In Texas, the first choice of a warming drink is coffee -- just plain hot coffee. In the rest of the world, the classic scene of inner warming is a family sitting around a campfire at a frozen pond consuming hot cider. "Cider" is usually a generic word for fruit juice. The predominant juice of choice is apple juice. Technically, apple juice is not cider until it is fermented forming alcohol in the process. Then it is hard cider or applejack.

The heating value of a drink is decided mainly by the ambient temperature of its contents. The addition of alcohol makes it feel like the drink is more warming.

Most Texans think of cider, either plain or fermented, as a bit sissified. A better warming drink would be a cup of hot, black coffee with a shot of bourbon in it. I prefer some cream and sugar in my coffee. I do defy convention at times. To me a cup of my style coffee with a shot of bourbon is a Brown Russian cocktail. I have strayed from the path of righteousness on occasion and had a shot of Amaretto in my coffee. I have mended my ways.

Another warming drink popular on a worldwide scale is hot tea. Excuse me, but tea is a beverage that is served ice cold in a large, red, plastic tumbler at any meal except breakfast.

A favorite of everyone is hot chocolate. Many Texas males will turn it down because it is not a man's drink; however, I am secure enough in my masculinity to admit that I like hot chocolate. If you don't know how to make hot chocolate by now, you need to rent the Sesame Street DVD "Elmo Learns to Cook".

Our friends south of the border have a hot chocolate that is more elaborate than ours and possibly better.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. In a separate heavy saucepan, heat the milk and cream on low until hot but not bubbling. When the milk mixture is hot add 3 tablespoons of it to the chocolate and mix well. Blend in the rest of the milk mixture, the sugar, and the cinnamon. In a small bowl beat the eggs and vanilla. Add a tablespoon of the chocolate mixture to the eggs and beat well. Slowly stir the egg mixture into the chocolate. Whisk the hot chocolate briskly in the double boiler for 3 minutes, then serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

Many years ago when the world was young, hot lemonade was popular. Usually it was served to persons feeling poorly, but it was and is a good drink

Hot Lemonade

  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons rum
Mix all together and serve in a thick mug. You may want to omit the rum for the kiddies.

There was a time when people sat around the fireplace making hot mulled rum or hot mulled wine. The mulling process is sticking an iron rod that has been heated in the fireplace into your cup of whatever. These days that would be more for show than anything, since you can get the same results with a microwave, although the searing of the ingredients with the hot iron may work some way to enhance the flavor. Most mulled drinks include some sugar. You can mull a cup of anything other than gunpowder.

We went through a period some years ago when hot Dr Pepper was on everyone's mind. Dr Pepper did a big advertising campaign on it. I tried it and didn't think it was all that good. But you may want to try mulling some Dr Pepper for the kids to keep them entertained while Dad is watching football on every TV set in the house. Just make sure the kids don't get to poking each other with the hot fire irons. (See our related article on cooking with Dr. Pepper)

We have Margarita mixing contests here in Texas rather frequently. One really, really cold night up in Maxdale, I entered a mix-off. I made hot Margaritas knowing the oddity would catch the judges attention. My sample was about the third one in line for the judges. By the time they had "sampled" the first two entries, they didn't even notice that my Margaritas were warm. We go heavy on the tequila. [Author note: Margaritas are made with tequila. They are not made with wine, as Guy Clark implies in "Dublin Blues" where he is sitting around "drinking Mad Dog margaritas]

Winter is the cold/flu/sniffles season. Here in Texas, we have a universal cure-all for such winter afflictions called the Hot Toddy. I have heard it prescribed for as long as I can remember. Aside from curing cold/flu/sniffles, it will improve your outlook on life.

Texas Hot Toddy

To a mug of boiling water add:
  • Juice of one-half lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 ounces good Bourbon
Sip as required.

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