Few things can bring more excitement (and panic) than the arrival of snow to a region that rarely gets it. And, throw in that it's less than a week before Christmas- mirth and mayhem!
We've always had a strange relationship with snow here in Delaware. Comparatively, we don't get enough of it for people to rationally behave the way they do. But that doesn't stop them. It begins with the ubiquitous grocery store run. Carts filled to the brim with more food than people could possibly consume in a 72 hour period. And that's when they call for 4-6 inches.
When it does start to come down, people turn on their televisions, 24 hours a day, presumably for updates. Now with Facebook and Twitter, you can blurt out the latest forecast for accumulations for all to hear! And almost everyone will be right.
And, there is always that one neighbor who heads out after the first hour and shovels their sidewalk, despite the fact the forecast is for another 8 hours of precipitation. The scraping sound of metal on concrete is- most unnatural.
In Wilmington, it's a foregone conclusion that as soon as it begins to snow, the bars fill up in Trolley Square. Yes, being located in the city actually helps a business when it snows. My least favorite part is when the Monster SUVs pull into parking lots with two inches of snow on the ground and park like idiots, leaving their vehicles as though they had just suddenly been abducted by aliens. Yes, there is a downside to snow, Virginia.
I immediately begin to cook something. Anything. If it's breakfast I'm making, when we sit down I'm already thinking about what's for lunch and dinner. I begin to eye up the roasting pan wondering what colossal cut of meat I can seduce marvelous, meaty flavors from. A soup, a stew, a pot of chili. Anything with lazy bubbles and little whisps of steam to fill the house with heady, scrumptious aromas. Now, a crock pot is just too damn slow to cook in. It's what I cook in when I can't be at home. But if you insist, do like my mom does on Christmas. She throws on a batch of apple cider in the pot and busts out the rum. Now that we're talking about beverages, I'm pretty much down for anything. Coffee in the morning, cider in the afternoon, Guinness for happy hour, red wine with dinner, port for dessert.
I would like to share my recipe for the most decadent hot chocolate you may ever drink. As with anything, the final product is determined by the quality of your ingredients. This one you can't skimp on. Chef's note: a little goes a long way. So, a demi-tasse of this hot cocoa is usually sufficient for even the most avid chocoholic.
Rich Belgian Hot Cocoa
1 Quart Whole Milk
1 Quart Heavy Cream
1 Fresh Vanilla Bean
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dry, dark cocoa powder (this is most important; use a good quality cocoa)
1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (chips or shavings; not big pieces)
Scrape the vanilla bean and put the entire bean into a heavy bottom pot with the milk and cream. Turn on medium heat. Add the sugar and the chocolate stirring slowly with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar and chocolate. Once dissolved, sift the cocoa into the mixture and use a whisk to incorporate. Continue to lightly whisk until there are no lumps and mixture is smooth. Simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into mugs and top with your favorite enhancer. Kids: whipped cream Adults: Baileys and Godiva come to mind.
Photo credit: Breakfast- latartinegourmande.com