Hot Chocolate Hack – Nutella Cocoa

I am a big fan of hot cocoa. I like rich, decadent, coffee shop cocoa – the fancy pants stuff that is a special treat. The kind of drink that says “Hello winter! Let’s get cozy!”

It has suddenly gotten really cold in Des Moines. When it starts go get cold and I’m pulling out my winter gear I start craving cocoa. With two little kids it is hard to get out, so I am not able to pop out and get cocoa when the craving hits.  Last week I tried Nutella cocoa at Gateway Market and I decided I needed to recreate it at home. It turns out that decadent coffee shop cocoa is remarkably simple to make at home. It is so simple I took several photos just so it would seem more complicated.

This is a great recipe to break out when you have friends over and you want to impress them with your very special chocolate hazelnut cocoa that is super duper hard to make (yup, I’m advocating lying to your friends so you look like a culinary visionary). The best part is, you probably already have the 2 ingredients in your house. The only two things you need are nutella and milk.

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Step 1: Choose your mug. How big is it? I picked a 10 oz mug.

Step 2: Measure out your milk. You will want a few ounces less of milk than will fit into the mug. I measured out 8 oz for my 10 oz mug.

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Step 3: Pour your milk into a saucepan and start to heat it on medium low.dsc_0210

Step 4: Scoop out 2-3 tablespoons of Nutella. Try not flinch at the large amount of Nutella on your spoon. dsc_0216

Step 5: Stir the Nutella into the warming milk. Get so excited about the impending yummy you forget how gross your stove is (mental note: clean stove).dsc_0218

Step 6: Whisk the Nutella into the milk until it is smooth and the cocoa is hot. dsc_0224

Step 7: Pour it into a mug. Spill a little bit on your counter (optional).dsc_0227

Step 8: Drink it up. Marshmallows would be a great addition.dsc_0229

It is so delicious I almost wish it wasn’t so easy to make. With cold weather hitting most of the country this week it is probably a great time to try it. I would love to hear what you think of it.

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Audrey’s Birthday Party

I used to love throwing parties. I would make elaborate recipes. I would bake a cake from scratch. I would put thought into the decorations. Then I had kids…and I got older….and lazier. I don’t do that stuff anymore. I had a birthday party for Audrey only because John wanted to have a party. She’s 2. She doesn’t care. But I knew our family would want to celebrate with her, so I got to planning.

The first thing I did was to find a date that worked with my sister, Kathleen. As I have mentioned, we have a small house. It is too small to have a party with 12 guests. Kathleen graciously let me have Audrey’s party there.

The next thing I did was log on to Pinterest to get ideas. I found a lot of inspiration – there are a plethora of very elaborate Mickey Mouse parties for two year olds out there.

I ended up making a half-assed version of Mickey Mouse cupcakes that I found. I skipped the red frosting, red sugar, and yellow M&Ms in favor of something I would actually want to eat.

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I decorated her cake in a similar manner to the cupcakes, using whole Oreos and Mini Oreos. I added red sugar as an accent. I probably would do red and yellow M&Ms as a border instead if I had it to do over. I would also make sure the Mickey on the cake was oriented the same as the Mickey on the plate. She’s 2 though, so it doesn’t matter.

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For the cake I used a Funfetti mix. Sure, I could have made a cake from scratch, but this way I knew it would turn out. I made the my go to Creamy Vanilla Frosting recipe. I love the convenience of cake mixes, but homemade frosting is so much better than canned frosting.

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The decorations were sparse, just 3 balloons. One red, one yellow, and a Mickey happy birthday balloon. The Mickey balloon is still floating around my house, providing hours of entertainment a full week after the party.

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We had nachos to snack on. I love nachos, so this was a good excuse to eat one of my favorite foods. The toppings were queso (the fancy Velveeta and Rotel kind), refried beans, salsa chicken, guacamole, salsa, and black olives.

The party was a hit with Audrey. She loved the presents, wearing her party hat and skirt, and the cake. It was worth the work to spend time with our families and give Audrey a fun day.

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