Friday, December 13, 2013

The Last Christmas Tree...a poem and three fabulous Hot Chocolate Recipes!

I saw a truck of Christmas trees
And each one had a tale,
The driver stood them in a row
And put them up for sale. 
He strung some twinkly lights
And hung a sign up with a nail;
"FRESH CHRISTMAS TREES"
It said in red
"FRESH CHRISTMAS TREES FOR SALE." 
He poured himself hot cocoa
In a steaming thermos cup,
And snowflakes started falling
As a family car pulled up. 

A mom, a dad, and one small boy
Who looked no more than three
Jumped out and started searching
For the perfect Christmas tree. 
The boy marched up and down the rows,
His nose high in the air;
"It smells like Christmas, mom!
It smells like Christmas everywhere!" 
"Let's get the biggest tree we can!
A tree that's ten miles high!
A tree to go right through our roof!
A tree to touch the sky!" 
"A tree SO big "That Santa Claus
Will stop and stare and say,
'Now, THAT'S the finest Christmas tree
I've seen this Christmas Day!'" 
It seemed they looked at every tree
At least three million times;
Dad shook them, pinched them,
turned them 'round 
To find the perfect pine. 
"I've found it, mom!
The Christmas tree I like the best of all!
It's got a little bare spot,
But we'll turn that to the wall!"
"We'll put great-grandma's angel
On top the highest bough!
Oh, can we buy it?
Please, mom, PLEASE?!
Oh, can we buy it NOW?" 
"How 'bout some nice hot cocoa?"
Asked the man who owned the lot.
He twisted off the thermos top,
"Now, THIS will hit the spot!" 
He poured the steaming chocolate
In three tiny paper cups.
They toasted, "Here's to Christmas!"
And they drank the cocoa up. 
"Is this your choice?" The tree man asked,
"This pine's the best one here!"
The boy seemed sad--- "My daddy says
"The price is just too dear." 
"Then, Merry Christmas!" Said the man,
who wrapped the tree in twine,
"It's yours for just one promise.
You must keep at Christmas time!" 
"On Christmas Eve at bedtime
As you fold your hands to pray,
Promise in your heart
To keep the joy of Christmas Day!" 
"Now hurry home! This freezy wind
Is turning your cheeks pink!
And ask your dad
To trim that trunk
and give that tree a drink!" 
And so it went on
All that blustery eve
As the tree man gave
Tree upon tree upon tree 

To every last person
Who came to the lot-
Who toasted with cocoa
In small paper cups, 
Who promised the promise
Of joy in their hearts---
And singing out carols,
Drove off in the dark. 
And when it was over
One tree stood alone;
But no one was left there
To give it a home. 
The tree man put on his
Red parka and hood
And dragged the last Christmas tree
Out to the woods.
He left the pine right by a stream
In the cold, 
So the wood's homeless creatures
Could make it their home. 
He smiled as he brushed off
Some snow from his beard,
When out of the thicket
A reindeer appeared.
He scratched that huge reindeer
On top his huge head---
"It looks like we've
Started up Christmas again!" 
"There are miles more to travel,
And much more to do!
Let's go home, my friend,
And get started anew 
He looked to the sky
And heard jingle bells sound-
And then, In a twinkling,
That tree man was gone! 


 I'm sure that after reading this wonderful poem, all you are craving a steaming cup of hot chocolate! Me, too! So here are two three fabulous recipes with variations. The first is making hot chocolate the good old fashioned way and the second recipe is for those of us with a little less patience! And the third is a wonderful spin on making hot chocolate. Hot chocolate truffles that you can drop in a cup of hot milk and Voila, Hot Chocolate! Enjoy!

Hot Chocolate ~ recipe and picture from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Milk
  • 2 cups Half-and-half
  • 1 cup Good Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar (optional)
  • VARIATIONS: Orange Rind, Orange Syrup, Cinnamon Sticks, Raspberry Syrup, Abuelita Chocolate, Mint Extract, Peppermint Patties, Whipped Cream, Chocolate Shavings

Preparation Instructions

To make the basic hot chocolate, combine milk with half-and-half in a small saucepan.
Warm over medium-low heat, then stir in chocolate chips.
Stir until melted (though there will still be lovely particles of chocolate throughout.)
If it’s too chocolatey for you, splash in a little more milk.
If it’s not quite sweet enough for you, add 1 teaspoon sugar.
Serve in mugs with whipped cream.

VARIATIONS
Orange Hot Chocolate: Add 4 slices of orange rind as you warm the milk mixture. Add a splash of orange syrup if you have it, but it isn’t necessary.
Raspberry Hot Chocolate: Add 3 tablespoons raspberry syrup to the hot chocolate. Drop a couple of raspberries into each cup.
Mint Hot Chocolate: Drop 1 to 2 miniature peppermint patties into each mug before adding hot chocolate. Stir to melt.
Mexican Hot Chocolate: Substitute 2 discs of Abuelita chocolate for the chocolate chips. Simmer cinnamon sticks in the saucepan with the hot chocolate. Add 1 cinnamon stick to each mug before serving.
Garnish any and all variations with whipped cream or chocolate shavings.

 recipe found at the pioneer woman


DIY Instant Hot Cocoa Mix ~ Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Serves:
5 1/2 cups dry mix

Ingredients
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
Hot water

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. 
In a small pot, heat 4 to 6 cups of water. 
Fill your mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine. 
Seal the rest in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry. 
This also works great with warm milk.


Hot Chocolate Truffles

Yield: 15 truffles
Ingredients
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
cocoa powder, crushed candy canes, mini chocolate chips for rolling 
 
Directions
1. Place all ingredients in a pot and melt together on low heat until smooth. Stir constantly.
2. Let cool in the fridge until stiff enough to scoop.
3. Make small scoops, about 2 Tablespoons each. And place them in the freezer for and hour.
4. Remove scoops, roll into balls.
5. Roll in your choice of decoration. Crushed candy cane, cocoa, cinnamon, mini marshmallows. (If you try the mini marshmallows, you really have to push the marshmallows into the chocolate balls.)
6. Wrap each ball in suran wrap and keep chilled until ready to use.
7. When ready, drop chocolate balls into 1 ½ cups of hot milk and stir!