Let’s face it, fall float trips call for hot chocolate. And when we say hot chocolate we don’t mean merely boiling some water and pouring the contents from a packet you get at the store. Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you can’t have a decadent cup of hot chocolate with a twist. In fact, it’s time you prove the sophisticated camper that you are by making the ordinary cup of hot chocolate extraordinary with a bit of preparation before you leave the house. Here are some suggestions for some variations on the typical cup of hot chocolate and great pairing options.
We certainly aren’t here to tell you that using hot chocolate packets while camping is a crime. In fact, it’s smart. But one way to kick your hot chocolate up a notch is to stir in 1 teaspoon of seedless raspberry jam. What could be better than raspberry hot chocolate on a crisp autumn evening with family and friends at the campfire? But perhaps you prefer butterscotch hot chocolate instead. This is easily rendered by adding 1 tablespoon of butterscotch sauce to your hot chocolate. But some among the campfire may like to spice up their hot chocolate. This can be remedied by stirring in 1/8 teaspoon each of ginger and cinnamon. Still there are those who can’t go without coffee, homesick for a taste of Starbucks. No problem, stirring 1 teaspoon of instant coffee into their hot chocolate is just the caffeine boost they needed.
But if you really want to impress your fellow campers, the following two hot chocolate versions will have them raving about your culinary skills long after the float trip ends. In the fall nothing beats a cup of pumpkin spice hot chocolate. In a medium sauce pan, whisk together 2 ½ cups milk and 1/3 cup hot cocoa mix. Next, add ¼ cup canned pumpkin, ½ tsp. vanilla, a pinch of salt and 1 and ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice. Heat until you reach your desired temperature. Then pour into glasses and top with whipped cream and/or marshmallows and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. This pumpkin spice hot chocolate recipe makes 3 servings. You can also impress your fellow campers with peppermint hot chocolate. In a medium sauce pan combine ½ cup whole milk, ¼ cup heavy cream and 6 crushed peppermint candies. Simmer about 4 minutes before adding 5 ounces coarsely chopped chocolate. Whisk for 2 minutes before serving with marshmallows or whipped cream.
It’s also helpful to know how to pair hot chocolate with food. Salty, sweet and tangy foods are ideal foods to pair with hot chocolate. Some of the best salty food pairings include popcorn; peanut butter on rice cakes or grainy bread; salted soft pretzels; spiced, roasted almonds (or other nuts) and toasted pumpkin seeds. For those with a sweet tooth among you, some ideal sweet pairings are angel food cake drizzled with caramel sauce or crème de menthe liqueur; peppermint flavored mints, chocolate or candy canes; caramel candy or dulce de leche frozen yogurt and tart candied fruits like candied lemons with the peel. Finally, tangy fruits are a great way to play off hot chocolate’s sweetness while cleansing the palate. Some tangy suggestions include any sour citrus fruit, blackberries, apples, green grapes, mangos, raspberries or strawberries.
And don’t forget hot chocolate for breakfast, the perfect accompaniment with breakfast or energy bars, English muffins and bagels. Hot chocolate is a great way to keep the kids warm in the morning, especially when most haven’t developed a taste for coffee.
Any of these hot chocolate versions will impress your fellow campers while warming their hearts on your next float trip.