PEANUT BUTTER (OR NUTELLA) HOT CHOCOLATE

 
 

Keeping with the whole January + hot chocolate thing, I've got the last two (for now) hot chocolate recipes for you this week. This one is super easy to throw together, and you totally don't have to have your whipped cream melt or spill hot chocolate everywhere like I did -- all you really need is some peanut butter or nutella (chocolate/hazelnut spread), milk, hot cocoa mix, and whatever garnish (whipped cream, marshmallows, sprinkles, etc.) you prefer. Boom, fancy hot chocolate.

While we're on the topic of nutella, I have to admit something...and I'm about to commit the food blogger equivalent of sacrilege, but I'm going to say it anyway because we can be real with each other, right? I don't love nutella. I mean, it's alright...I don't hate it or anything. I just can't get behind the nutella craze. It just doesn't do it for me. I can't even explain it, really. I just feel pretty "meh" about it. 

That said, I still maintain that if you are a nutella-loving individual, this idea would work just as well with nutella! Whether you choose that or peanut butter, it's pretty simple; all you've got to do is whisk a few tablespoons into the heated milk before you add the cocoa mix and you're good to go. 

 
 

Peanut Butter (or Nutella) Hot Chocolate

makes two servings

20 oz (or two mugs full) milk
6 TB hot cocoa mix
2 to 3 TB peanut butter (smooth) or nutella
your choice of "garnish" (marshmallows, whipped cream, sprinkles, etc).

Directions:

  1. Heat milk in a small saucepan over low heat, until it barely simmers.
  2. Whisk in peanut butter or nutella.
  3. Add cocoa mix, and whisk until thoroughly combined, and heat for another minute or two.
  4. Pour into mugs, garnish, and serve!

PUMPKIN SPICE SYRUP

 
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IT'S SEPTEMBER. Where has this year gone? Actually, with all the stuff that has happened this year, I'm completely ready for a new year, so it's really okay with me if this year keeps speeding by.

Because it is now September, I can declare it officially PUMPKIN SEASON! It's perfectly acceptable to make all the pumpkin goodies now! Pumpkin season is my favorite. Fall is the best season, and I wish it would just show up already. Parts of the country are already having fall-ish weather, and we're just over here with all this mid/upper 80's and gross humidity nonsense. It's like Chicago is resisting a weather change because according to the farmer's almanac, we're going to get majorly shit on by winter. Is the farmer's almanac accurate? I don't even care. Cooler weather now please!

With all the "controversy" (don't we have better things to obsess over these days? Read the news.) around the Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte...carcinogens, caramel coloring, no real pumpkin, blah blah blah...I thought it might be pertinent to share an important bit of information with you:

You can make your own pumpkin spice syrup!

And it is obscenely easy.
And it is delicious.
And it will save you a boatload of money.

Maybe if you give less of your money to Starbucks, you can spend more money on pumpkins. Or pumpkin beer. Or something else cooler than a $5 latte.

If you feel so inclined, you could dial back the pumpkin a bit. You can adjust the spices to your liking, too, if you want more/less of something. It's adaptable. I also imagine you could use pumpkin pie spice instead of all the spices separately, but I'm not sure how the spice ratio stacks up there. I think it'd be worth a shot, though.

 
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Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup

recipe adapted from Cynthia over at Two Red Bowls

makes one pint.

1 ½ cups water
1 cup granulated (white) sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
a scant ½ tsp ground cloves (shoot for closer to 1/3 tsp)

Directions:

  1. Combine water and sugars in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugars dissolve, then turn heat to low.
  2. Whisk in pumpkin and spices until smooth. Simmer for 10 minutes (but don’t let it boil!).
  3. Remove from heat, and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove cinnamon stick.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  6. Use as desired in coffee, tea, etc. I usually use 1-2 TB per cup of coffee.
  7. According to my calculations (nerd alert), the homemade syrup is about 36 calories per tablespoon. A 16oz PSL with 2% milk and NO whipped cream at Starbucks clocks in at 310 calories (according to their website). I'd be willing to guess that most of those calories are NOT coming from the milk. So there’s that.