theo chocolate hot chocolate

the beginning of something beautiful…

While sitting on the warm side of my office window, I enjoyed watching the snow fall outside.  We get quite excited about snow in TN, and the forecasted few inches arrived today as promised.  Visions of thick, rich, creamy hot chocolate drifted through my thoughts throughout the afternoon.  Hot chocolate and snow… (yes, I was working!  one must look away from the excel worksheet on occasion…)
This hot chocolate is adapted from a recipe posted by Yadi; you can find her original recipe here.
I have scaled the recipe to yield a little less than 8 ounces of hot chocolate.  The cup in the pictures is very small, holding about 3 ounces, which is just enough to quench the chocolate craving yet not enough to feel guilty about the calories.
Nutella Chocolate Chocolate Hot Chocolate
Mix all together in small saucepan and heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is steaming:
1 1/2 t Nutella (be sure to lick the spoon!)
2T chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips)
1 fl oz (or 2T) heavy whipping cream
3 fl oz whole milk
Chop and add to steaming milk mixture:
1 ounce theo orange chocolate (this does not scent the hot chocolate orange; however, it blends well with the other flavors to create a smooth, lush warm drink) 
Allow chocolate to melt, then stir to mix well.
Add 1/4 t vanilla (it’s really aged Grey Goose and vanilla beans)
Pour into small cups and top with tiny marshmallow if desired.  
Sit back, watch the snow fall and sip the hot chocolate…these ARE the days…
This hot chocolate is rich, and small servings are quite adequate.  Though a bit sweeter and perhaps a bit thinner than THIS hot chocolate, both are absolutely delicious, and well worth 15 minutes of your time to stir together a culinary treat.
sweet dreams…
I visited the theo chocolate factory near Seattle, WA last year.  Here’s the link to the blog post, should you desire to read more about chocolate.

I like shortbread

A basic shortbread recipe combines such simple ingredients, yet the sum of the parts is far past simple.  I use the best ingredients I can find, and the result is spectacular.
This cacao nib shortbread recipe is adapted from Anita at ‘Dessert First,’ and you can find the original recipe here.
Listed below is my adaptation of the shortbread recipe.
Stir together and sit aside:
6.75 oz plain flour
2.5 oz brown rice flour
Cream with mixer for 3-4 minutes:
8 oz Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, at room temperature
3.5 oz granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
Remove mixer bowl from mixer stand. Gently stir in flours using wooden spoon, combining only until mixed.  
Stir in 1/3 cup cacao nibs – I used theo cacao nibs in this recipe; however, I have used nibs from King Arthur Flour in the past and they are also great.
Turn dough out on to saran, wrap tightly and refrigerate.
When ready to bake, roll to 1/4″ thick, and cut as desired.
Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in 325 degree oven for about 17 minutes.
Sprinkle with granulated sugar immediately after removing from oven.
Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
I store cooled cookies in leftover Christmas tins and separate the layers of cookies with pieces of the parchment paper used for baking (recycle!).
enjoy – - -
mixing with my favorite wooden spoon from Sis and D’s Handmade Spoons
velvety, squishy, nibby, buttery, shortbread dough

mixed dough is shaped (I used a loaf pan to shape dough into a rectangle) and chilled overnight -
later rolled into 1/4″ thick rectangle and chilled again -
later cut and chilled again -
and finally baked

sunlight and shadows:
the dough held it’s shape beautifully after baking – no spreading edges

vanilla sugar crystals: