Bonfires and Cocoa

By Michelle Plummer

There is something magical about a bonfire, from the crackling wood to the flames of color jumping about while the red embers quietly smolder below providing warmth and comfort on a chilly autumn night.  As you look in to the fire and recall memories of camp outs with scouts, family and friends there is one thing these memories have in common… hot cocoa!

Hot cocoa is one of my favorite foods and really what is not to love?  Warm milk, chocolate and whipped cream… ooohhhh, well not all of my hot chocolate memories are like this. There was the camp out that we burnt the milk and used water, chocolate and sugar and topped it off with whipped cream—-horrible! Or the time I ran out of milk and mixed milk and water (who would notice) and added whipped cream as a thickener to the cocoa and sugar and well never mind…one more disaster!  And my personal favorite of trying to melt chocolate bars over the fire into a cup of warm milk…why you ask?  Because it took much too long to melt the chocolate in the milk together, the chocolate burnt into the fire and I was left with warm milk and whipped cream…not bad, but not what I had envisioned around the campfire!

However, many years later and lots of practice I have developed delicious hot cocoa that is perfect for any group, any fire and even perfect near the indoor fire pit (fireplace)!

Homemade Hot Cocoa  (serves 10)

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
1/2 gallon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 cup half and half

Whipped cream, cinnamon sticks, chocolate shavings, peppermint sticks, marshmallows

In large saucepan combine sugar, cocoa powder, salt and coffee together.  Add water and stir until blended.  Whisk milk in gradually; add chocolate that has been chopped.  Heat until very warm; add vanilla and half & half.  Place on stove to heat again until warm.  Place in thermos for the bonfire or place in crockpot on low for a crowd or simply ladle into large mugs, garnish as desired and go to your best memory of past bonfires or build a new memory with a delicious cup of cocoa.

Quickie Cocoa

Open an envelope of cocoa mix, add warm milk and stir in your favorite mug.  All the benefits of cocoa plus the milk nutrition and it done in just a minute and you will not miss one crackle or spark!