Getting Crafty with Hot Cocoa – Peppermint Mocha Recipe

Hot Cocoa Craft - Peppermint Mocha - www.littlerustedledle.com

Jena and I recently worked on a project that showed how to host a hot cocoa party complete with a build your own hot cocoa bar. I know, sounds fun, right? While developing cocoa powder recipes, and researching what others consider the “best hot cocoa recipe”, I realized that there were a few common concepts that most chef’s/bloggers all adopted regarding this famous chocolate beverage we all enjoy.

crafty-peppermint-mocha-recipeOne version revolves around the standard cocoa powder, sugar, milk powder combination. Similar to the Swiss Miss packages I grew up with. Gourmet versions of this use real cocoa powder from the best sourced chocolate, as if there was another option. Another popular version uses bulk chocolate, usually a dark bittersweet or semi-sweet variety, that is melted in hot milk with sugar and more cocoa powder and a little cornstarch to thicken. Jacque Torres, the famous chocolatier, uses this method with great success. You can see his version here.

The problem with the latter version is that it doesn’t work well in a hot cocoa bar setting. You would need to make it in large batch ahead of time and keep it hot in a crockpot. It doesn’t allow for variety in flavor, and then there is the leftovers and cleanup. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I love the idea of chocolate as leftovers, I’m not sure sitting down to a crockpot half full of day old hot cocoa is what I had in mind. Then there’s the possibility that you don’t make enough, and someone goes without hot cocoa. Oh the horror!!! Not on my watch.

So, the question I had was how can I combine the richness of Chef Torres hot cocoa with the ease of preparation of a powdered mix? Then a lightbulb went off in my head, as it often does when I’m working with food. Why not combine the two concepts and create a cute, edible craft at the same time? Cute, edible craft hot cocoa. What?

Hot Cocoa Craft - Peppermint Mocha - www.littlerustedledle.com

What I love about Jacque Torres version is how thick and rich it is. It’s similar to our chocolate ganache version from a few years ago. You can check it out here for reference. What happens when you use a powdered mix and add chocolate truffles, which are basically chocolate ganache covered in chocolate, to hot water or milk? I gave it a go and found it to be really delish, which is a good thing when it comes to hot cocoa.

Next question was how easy is it to add flavoring like peppermint, caramel or spices to the mix, allowing for special blends that party goers could try without too much hassle or work? After all, hot cocoa is a little like chili. Everyone has their own preference. Some like it rich and thick, some with milk, while others prefer water. I like mine Mexican style with a little chili powder and cinnamon, but you may like it with peppermint or even schnapps. That’s what’s great about a hot cocoa party. Everyone should have options.

What I discovered was you can add spices or caramel pudding powder to the cocoa mix, but peppermint powder gets hard and clumpy as soon as you crush it. Plus, you have to make batches of each version and put them in bowls to give people options, right? Not necessarily.

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What if I created my own chocolate cup, filled it with a powdered hot cocoa mix, crushed peppermint candies and mini marshmallows, then sealed the top with melted white chocolate? As a cute finishing touch, make a chocolate saucer and a chocolate covered pretzel handle to make this little cup look like a mug topped with whipped cream. Now we’re talking! Add some crushed peppermint candies on top to look like a garnish and let people know what flavor the cup is. Yup, we thought of everything this time. The end result produces a cute mini cup, filled with just the right amount of hot cocoa mix and flavorings. Simply drop it in a cup, fill it with water, milk or even coffee. Stir it until it all melts in and BAMMM, perfect hot cocoa! For different flavors, add a teaspoon of caramel pudding mix or syrup, a pinch of chili powder and cinnamon, or even some hazelnut spread.

I know, I know, it sounds like a lot of work, and well, it is. Making the cups is the tough part. I could write an entire article on how to make these. Instead, I will lead you to this cute site I found that specializes in cute food called hungry happenings.com. You’ll spend hours looking at the ideas they have there. I’m not nearly as talented as they are, but I think these little hot cocoa filled chocolate cups are the bomb and are really tasty too.

You will amaze your friends and family if you pull these out. They may hate you for being so creative, but it will make a statement. “I am a food crafter, hear me roar”. Enjoy. Next time we’ll discuss those fluffy things you put in your cocoa. Homemade marshmallows! A lot easier than these cups, and sooooo worth the effort. Yum! Don’t forget to cook with love and live to cook.

Jim & Jena

 

Peppermint Mocha Cocoa CupsRecipe
 
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This recipe is part craft, part hot cocoa and a great way to wow the guests at your next hot cocoa party. If the whole project scares you off, just make the mix. It's great on it's own. Add two good quality dark chocolate truffles to make it more decadent.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Dry milk powder
  • ¾ cup Powdered sugar
  • ½ cup Unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably without alkaline)
  • ½ tsp. fine sea salt
  • 12 ozs. Bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 ozs. White chocolate, chopped
  • 8 ea. Peppermint candies, crushed
  • 32-40 ea. Mini marshmallows
  • 8 ea. Round plastic ball halves for decorating (found in craft supply stores)
  • 8 ea. 4 oz. Dixie cups
  • 8 ea. Chocolate covered pretzels
Instructions
  1. For cocoa mix, combine milk powder and next 3 ingredients in a medium size bowl with a whisk. Set aside.
  2. For Chocolate Cups:
  3. Melt ¾ of bittersweet chocolate over double boiler until almost completely melted, stirring continually. Remove melted chocolate from heat and add remaining chopped chocolate. stir in until chocolate is smooth. set aside while getting plastic cups ready.
  4. place plastic cup halves on a sheet pan.
  5. One at a time, fill each cup ½ full of melted chocolate. Turn cups sideways, letting chocolate coat entire inside of cup. Turn upside down and let remaining chocolate drip out of cup into bowl of melted chocolate. Place cup halves on a foil lined sheet pan. Repeat with remaining cup halves. Pour a small amount of remaining melted chocolate in the bottom of each dixie cup.
  6. Refrigerate all cups for about 15 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove chocolate cups from plastic molds and set aside, being careful not to handle too much.
  8. Remove chocolate disks from dixie cups by peeling away paper. Place on sheet pan. refrigerate cups and saucers until ready to assemble.
  9. Cut 8 pieces of chocolate covered pretzels with a small serrated knife. Each piece should look like a handle.
  10. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler over low heat until melted, stirring continually. Remove from heat and set aside.
  11. To Assemble Cups:
  12. Place a small amount of remaining melted chocolate in the center of each chocolate saucer. Moving quickly, place chocolate cup half open side up on top of saucer, letting the melted chocolate act as glue to fasten them together.
  13. Repeat process with remaining cups and saucers.
  14. Dip a chocolate pretzel handle into melted chocolate, then press into side of cup for a few seconds until chocolate firms up.
  15. Repeat process with remaining handles and cups.
  16. Spoon 3 tablespoons of cocoa mix into each cup.
  17. Top each filled cup with 4-5 mini marshmallows and some crushed peppermint candies.
  18. Spoon melted white chocolate over filling, covering filling completely.
  19. Sprinkle with more peppermint dust.
  20. Transfer all cups to a covered container and store in a cool place until ready to serve.
  21. To Serve: Place one cocoa filled cup in a large mug. Pour 8-10 ozs. of scalding milk, hot water or coffee into mug. Stir until chocolate cup has melted and cocoa powder it blended into liquid. Top with desired toppings and serve.
Notes
You can make different flavors by adding flavors to the cup when filling.

Caramel - Add 1 tsp. dry caramel pudding mix or caramel syrup
Mexican Cocoa - Add a pinch each of cayenne pepper and ground cinnamon
Hazelnut - Add 1 tsp. chocolate hazelnut spread
Peanut Butter - Add 1 tsp. creamy peanut butter
Adult Versions - Replace 1 Tbsp. of dry mix with 1 Tbsp. liquor of choice

 

Julia @ HappyFoods Tube - Wow! Now these hot chocolate cups look amazing! What a great idea this is and I don’t mind it being time-consuming because they look perfect! Thanks for the inspiration!

littlerustedladle - Thanks Julia, send us photos of your creations. We love to see creativity at work.

Esther - What amazing creativity and beautiful images.

Sift Magazine Fall Feature – Cranberry Harvest

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We are thrilled to share our feature story on my Grandpa Raab’s cranberry bog was published in this fall’s edition of Sift magazine. I was so happy to see my grandpa’s face as I showed him the magazine article. He looked so proud, of himself or me, I couldn’t tell. He said, “I am gonna put this in the safe,” because I think he treasures it so much. I really should give him another copy so he can have one out to look at.

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The day of the harvest I woke up and headed out to the bog because I wanted to capture the morning sunlight hitting off the cranberries. I thought for sure I would be the first one out there. However, grandpa was already out there on his tractor. Shortly after several family members showed up for this annual event. I remember that insanely beautiful fall day standing around taking photos as the rest of my family was sweating profusely working so hard harvesting the cranberries. I encourage you to check out the original post here to view extra photos of this event.

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As my family continued to work, I headed back to the house where my grandmother sat and copied her favorite cranberry recipes from her recipe cards to mine. I am grateful that my cards will forever be in her handwriting. Little Rusted Ladle based the recipes featured in the story off of “Grandma Raab’s Cranberry Sauce” Jim and I shot some of our most loved recipes for this story. They are delicious as they are beautiful.

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Here is a link to the full story posted here in 2013.

Click here to buy the Sift magazine by King Arthur Flour.

I love getting together with my family even if it is to work our butts off. Yes, even I, who took no part in the actual farming, was sweating the day of the harvest going back and fourth, standing, siting, lying down, running around the bog to get the best angles.

Don’t wait until a special occasion, create one.

Jena & Jim

Our Best Ever Fall Recipes!

best-ever-fall-recipes-little-rusted-ladle-midwest-milwaukee-food-photographer-webThe flavors of fall sing like the most talented choir. Nothing beats the anticipation of knowing that very soon we will be delving into all the incredible ingredients that mother nature provides for us this time of year. Ingredients that transform into delicious recipes. Fall recipes are searched more than any other season for a reason. It’s the same excitement that comes with all the other activities in fall. Leaves morphing into beautiful tones of orange, yellow, red and browns. The smell of burning wood. Football games every weekend and with them comes tailgating and football parties. But what links those events is food. Glorious fall food. Can you imagine fall without all the incredible apple recipes like pie, cider, doughnuts, apple sauce, or caramel apples? How about perfectly tart cranberries or the perfect bowl of chili? The thought of eating cheesy french onion soup on a crisp fall day makes me giddy with anticipation. Eating a creamy cheese spread while enjoying a Packer or Badger game with friends and family is as traditional as it gets. The smell of fresh baked bread just coming out of the oven waiting to be slathered with real butter. Fall vegetables like acorn squash, parsnips and brussels sprouts, roasted to perfection. Yes, these are just a few of the reasons why fall is king when it comes to food. We may be sick of these flavors come next March, but right now, they are awesome!

Apple Cider Cake Recipes_Little Rusted Ladle_Jena Carlin Photography_Rude on Food_4 96WMWhen looking back over the last three and a half years that Jena and I have been doing this, we realized how much we loved some of the fall food shots we’ve done. They bring back wonderful memories of the moments in which they were made. The apple article we did a couple of years ago and that incredibly delicious apple upside down cake.

Cranberry Butter Popovers - Little Rusted Ladle - Jena Carlin Photography - King Arthur Flour Limited Usage
The wonderful cranberry article about Jena’s family that was recently featured in Sift Magazine showing off the popovers with cranberry butter, which is one of my favorite shots ever!

Homemade Soup Recipe | Pork and Pumpkin Mole Chili | www.littlerustedladle.com
The Pork & Pumpkin Mole’ Chili. If you knew how incredible my kitchen smelled while making that, you’d run out to the store and make it tomorrow.

Appetizers | German Onion Soup | Black and White Food | www.littlerustedladle.com
The black and white series we did a couple of years ago for New Years Eve party featuring a German Onion Soup. We worked very late on the day we shot that, but it was worth it.

Thanksgiving Stuffing Pull Apart Bread - www.littlerustedladle.com
The yummy Pull Apart Bread we did. I can still taste that one!

Pomegranate Squash with Spiced Squash Seeds Recipe | www.littlerustedladle.com
Our Sweet Pomegranate Squash with Spiced Squash Seeds among other tasty Thanksgiving recipes that we shot in Jena’s home. Her dinning room was the perfect backdrop for our Rustic Thanksgiving Feast feature.

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And what is fall without apple pie… apple pie infused bourbon that is!

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Here is the slush recipe to go along with that apple pie infused bourbon. Drink up!

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The Pork Chops we did as part of the apple series that took all of about fifteen minutes to shoot because they were so perfect right out of the oven! My girlfriend Judi still calls that meal one of the best I’ve ever made for her, and believe me, there have been quite a few. We decided to repost some of these shots to get everyone as excited for fall as we are. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did making them. We will try to create some more very soon.

We would like to conclude this article with an apology for our infrequent posts.  However,  you may not be that disappointed because we’ve been very busy writing and photographing tons of new recipes for our NEW COOKBOOK!

That’s right, we are thrilled to let our fans know that Little Rusted Ladle will have a new cookbook coming out next spring. We will be done with it in about a month, after which we will resume our articles. Stay tuned for how you will be able to order a copy or where and when it will be available. We are really excited about it and know you will be too. Enjoy fall, family and friends. Until next time, cook with love and live to cook.

Jim & Jena

Katie - Yay! I’m so looking forward to your cookbook. You two are so inspired, I’m sure it will be a delicious book for the taste buds and the eyes!

Honey Bee Family Farm’s Lemonade Stand + Recipe

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Here is one last taste of summer! We went to the Maule’s family farm, Hawkeye Farms, where they take care of chickens, pigs, goats and last but not least… BEES! Take a look at all the fun we had making this Honey Peach Mint Lemonade. Plus have fun with your own last lemonade stand for the summer. Use these amazing free printables designed by the talented Jesse Maule himself. He designed the graphics for the sticker labels, banner and a poster for you!

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Honey Bee Family Farm's Lemonade Stand + Recipe
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 medium peaches, peeled and sliced, pit removed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1¼ cup Honey
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 5-6 lemons)
  • zest of 4 lemons
  • 10-15 mint leaves
  • 4 cups ice
  • thinly sliced lemons and peaches for garnish
Instructions
  1. Muddle mint, lemons and peaches.
  2. Combine all ingredients together. Stir.
  3. Garnish with thinly sliced lemons and peaches.

 

Jackie Slade - I loved the bee video. And the beautiful towhead family too. Thx

Pam Stasney - Such beautiful & fun images! An incredible visual story! Makes me want organic, homemade lemonade.

Raspberry Burnet Soda Pop

Raspberry Burnet - Soda Pop - Simple Summer Drink - Food Photography - Little Rusted Ladle - WebFB

“Raspberry beret, the kind you find in a second hand store. Raspberry beret and if it was warm she wouldn’t wear much more. Raspberry beret I think I love her.” Come on sing it with me. Let me guess, you’re kind of wondering what the heck I’m singing a Prince song for? Well, Jena and I were working on a recipe shot for this little project we are doing. It’s top secret, so I can’t tell you, but we will let all our fans know very soon, so stay tuned. Anyway, while making a drink for the shot which had the herb known as burnet in it, Jena said “hey, why don’t we put raspberries in it and we can call it raspberry burnet?” Clever huh? So that is why I’m singing that song. You can’t help it, it just comes out of your mouth.

Raspberry Burnet Fizz - Little Rusted Ladle - Midwest - Wisconsin Summer 2016 - Jena Carlin Photography - WebWM-10Raspberry Burnet Fizz - Little Rusted Ladle - Midwest - Wisconsin Summer 2016 - Jena Carlin Photography - WebWM-8

It’s a very easy drink, and quite refreshing. Fresh raspberries, burnet, fresh lime juice, and sparkling water with a little lemon lime soda. What’s burnet you ask? Burnet is a very cool looking perennial herb that tastes a lot like cucumber. Since craft cocktails using cucumber are in vogue right now, I thought making a drink with an herb that tasted like cucumber would be a little different. That and we had to use it so we could sing that song while we photographed  it.

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Think mojito without the rum and substitute the burnet for the mint. Prince was reported to not be a fan of alcohol, so Jena and I thought we would make the Raspberry Burnet Soda Pop non-alcoholic. Also, did you notice it’s called soda pop?  That’s to allow for both sides of the age old question do you call it “soda” or “pop”?  Everybody is happy.  Besides, It reminds me of a time gone by.  The old soda fountain, where they would add the flavoring and carbonation right in front of you before there was bottled soda.  We both thought it would be good with vodka or even gin, but you can try that on your own. To make this soda pop, place about 4-5 fresh raspberries each in two rocks style glasses. Add about two sprigs of fresh burnet into each glass, topped with a teaspoon each of fresh lime juice and a teaspoon of simple syrup. You can buy simple syrup at a liquor store, or simply combine one cup of water and one cup of sugar in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Let it cool, then transfer it to a bottle or jar to use when you have a recipe that calls for it.  Muddle the raspberry  burnet mixture with a muddler or the back of a fork. Add ice, then add sparkling water to three quarters full and top with lemon lime soda. Stir and serve. Enjoy your summer. P.s., don’t forget to play the song while you make it.  You can’t help but be in a good mood afterwards.  See you soon. Remember to cook with love and live to cook.

Jim & Jena

 

Raspberry Burnet Soda Pop
 
Prep time
Total time
 
This simple and refreshing beverage has the tart flavor of raspberries and lime and the subtle flavor of cucumber that comes from the herb burnet. Prince would be proud.
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 8-10 fresh raspberries
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 4 sprigs fresh burnet
  • 2 tsp. simple syrup
  • 8 ozs. sparkling water
  • 2-3 ozs. lemon-lime soda
Instructions
  1. Divide raspberries, lime juice, burnet and simple syrup between two rocks glasses. Muddle raspberries and burnet with a muddler or the back of a fork. Fill to halfway with ice. Add water and lemon lime soda. Stir and serve.
Notes
Add a sprig of burnet for an elegant garnish.

 

19 Sparkling Mocktail Recipes for Holidays and Parties - The Most Viral collection of feel good stories & videos, delicious recipes and awesome DIY projects - […] sophisticated soda pop? Yep, we found one. Make this Raspberry Burnet Soda Pop to wow your […]

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