One of my families favorite holiday traditions begins with the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree and ends with a perfect cup of hot cocoa. The perfect tree has to be not too skinny, not too fat, tall enough that you need a latter to reach the top but not too tall that it hits the ceiling and bends over, it must be a dark shade of green with no visible spray paint on its boughs, and must have the most beautiful aroma. Above all else it must be alive!!!! ( No fake trees in our house)
Each year we begin our search at the tree farm, the trees covered in a beautiful coating of freshly fallen snow. The children bundled up, my husband with tree saw in tow, our cheeks bright red from the cold crisp air. Wandering up and down the rows of trees until our eyes rest upon the perfect tree, we cut it down, shake off the snow from the branches and proudly bring it to our car.
Once we reach our house we place the tree in a cherry red wrought iron stand, the snow from the branches drips to the floor leaving puddles that are quickly soaked up by the vintage tree skirt. The ornaments come out, each one lovingly collected and chosen by members of our family. Each one has a story and a memory attached to it. Last but certainly not least Christmas scooby is placed at the top. The night ends with a perfect cup of cocoa.
This year we live in Southern California so we lacked the snow, but the tradition remained the same and the night ended with a perfect cup of cocoa.
The Perfect Cup of Cocoa
3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 c. chocolate ganache
fresh whipped cream
Place whole milk in medium sauce pan, add chocolate ganache. Heat to simmer. Remove from heat and assemble in heat proof glass mug.
1 cup 60% bittersweet chocolate chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Heat heavy cream until the cream just starts to simmer, remove from heat and add chocolate to cream. Let sit for 1-2 minutes, stir to combine. add vanilla and stir. Set aside.
Fresh whipped cream
1 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place heavy cream in mixing bowl. Whip on high 2-3 minutes, add sugar and vanilla. Beat 1-2 minutes more until soft peaks form. Set aside
To assemble hot cocoa:
Place 1/4 of the hot cocoa in a heat proof glass mug. Spoon fresh whipped cream on top. Garnish with a peppermint stick.