You’re familiar with charcuterie or cheese boards, right? Well, it’s time for brie and crackers to step aside, because beautiful hot chocolate “charcuterie” boards are here.
What I love about the idea is it takes something simple — a cup of hot cocoa — and makes it an event.
These boards can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose. While it’s easy to drop a serious chunk of change on upscale cookies and candies, these boards don’t have to be expensive to be festive. You can pick up cocoa mix, a bag of marshmallows and a package of assorted cookies for under $10. Then arrange a lovely board. You also can make a board with only marshmallows and whipped cream.
The dollar store is a treasure trove for goodies to make these boards. You’ll find seasonal platters, mugs and plates — even cocoa, marshmallows and other fun holiday treats to brighten up your board.
To assemble your abundant board, start with the largest items first, spaced evenly around the board. Odd numbers tend to look best. Be sure you have something to add height and visual interest, like candy canes. Next, arrange the medium-size items, like cookies, looking for contrast in shape, color and texture. Avoid straight lines and go for curves instead. Lastly, fill in any empty space with small items like candies, leaving no bare board.
To add interest, add elements like ribbons, ornaments and mini lights. But don’t include anything that’s not edible that might look edible to the kiddies (poinsettias and holly berries!). That’s a recipe for disaster.
What to put on your board? Here are some ideas to get you started: marshmallows, whipped cream, chocolate chips, peppermint sticks and candies, caramels, peanut butter cups, chocolate truffles, any kind of cookies, meringues, gingerbread, brownies, sprinkles, candied ginger, candied orange zest, flavored syrups, ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks, instant coffee or espresso powder. Be sure to add something salty to balance all that sugar; mixed nuts are perfect.
For the adults, feel free to spice things up with Irish cream, coffee liquor, coconut rum and, of course, peppermint schnapps to mingle cheerfully with chocolate.
The easiest method to make hot chocolate is to purchase cocoa mix at the store. But since the ingredients list of most cocoa mixes includes hydrogenated oils, corn syrup solids and other unpronounceable ingredients, here’s an easy and affordable alternative.
EASY DIY HOT CHOCOLATE MIX
With such a small list of ingredients, quality matters. Purchase the best unsweetened cocoa powder you can comfortably afford.
Yield: Just shy of 3 cups of mix or approximately 24 servings of hot cocoa
What You’ll Need:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
Whole milk to serve
Sift the cocoa powder (to remove any lumps), sugar and salt into a large bowl. Whisk all ingredients until fully combined. Store in an airtight container.
To serve: Warm 1 cup of your choice of milk (or non-dairy alternative), add 2 tablespoons hot cocoa mix and give it a good stir. To make 8 servings, add 1 cup mix to 8 cups hot milk.
To prepare a quantity of hot cocoa, use your crockpot to heat the milk and keep the finished cocoa warm for hours. A crockpot is less likely to scorch your hot chocolate than the stovetop
So, let’s warm up winter with everything you need to customize your next-level cup of cocoa. Is there a better way to share a cup of cheer? I think not.
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org
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