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December "hotties" to try
Recipes for hot drinks during cold winter months

By Johanne McInnis

        Ok, so it wasn't exactly a bone chilling November and a mild December is predicted but as the temperatures start to drop below freezing how about something nice and hot to drink. It's the season to invite friends over, go out to holiday parties and share some eggnog with the cat or dog (hey, even they deserve a little holiday cheer).

        Maybe something with a little kick might help you find some assertiveness as you stare at all the gifts you haven't started to wrap.

        There are plenty of hot drinks out there that you can purchase commercially. Step into a Starbucks and read all the tongue twisters on the board: A white chocolate macchiato with a maple espresso twist or how about a tazo chai latte made with soymilk? Coffees, teas, hot chocolates and hot toddies. Decisions, decisions?

        Let's start with coffees. Coffee beans are prepared by roasting, which develops the aroma and flavour of their essential oils. Longer roasting produces darker, stronger coffee. There are a vast variety of coffees available from around the world however all techniques begin with properly roasted beans, freshly ground coffee and boiled water. Some coffee "connoisseurs" pay dearly for certain blends such as Blue Mountain from Jamaica or other so-called specialty coffees from Africa, Indonesia, or Latin America-all premium Arabica. No matter how you purchase your coffee (ground of whole bean), it is often recommended to keep it in the freezer.

        Teas are even more diverse, especially with the recent boom of information about anti-oxidants being so great for your health. There are four major types of tea: White, Green, Oolong and Black. Interestingly enough they all come from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis. How it's processed is what distinguishes each category.

        Tea spin offs, such as scented, flavoured or blended teas, are produced using one of the four major types of tea as a base. One term that has become part of our everyday lingo is herbal tea.

        This is however usually a "mislabelling" on our part as beverages made with herbs or flower parts instead of tea are often referred to as tisanes or herbal infusions. In the larger cities of our province, you can find many places where one can purchase a large variety of loose teas. Many tea connoisseurs consider brewed whole-leaf tea the best tasting (myself included).

        Hot chocolates. Do I have to say more, it has chocolate in it! Most of us buy the pre-prepared, just add water or milk and stir varieties.

        However, in some parts of the world, believe it or not there are establishments where the only item on the menu is just that. In Sydney Australia there is one place where there are 5 full pages of delectable flavoured hot chocolates on the menu. These are obviously a little more work to prepare however, how impressive is it to serve someone a homemade cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night!

        Hot toddies. Listed in the dictionary as a drink made with liquor, hot water, sugar and sometimes spices. They are great served as digestives, after meals. Often made with a coffee or tea base. Some of the more famous maritime toddies are "blueberry tea or Spanish coffee.

        So sit down, put the kettle on and try some of the following recipes.

Irish coffee for two

  • 2 cups hot strong brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons white or brown sugar
  • whipped cream

    * Mix coffee, juices, and sugar.
    * Pour into two tall glasses (such as an Irish whisky glass) and top with whipped cream.

    Mexican Mocha

  • 1-1/2 cups hot coffee
  • 4 teaspoons chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream

        * Mix whipping cream, 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar, whip until you have soft peaks. Put 1 teaspoon of chocolate syrup into each cup.

        * Place the rest of the cinnamon into the coffee, and stir. Pour coffee into 2 cups; stir to mix in chocolate syrup. Top with whipped cream mixture.

Quick mint hot chocolate

        Do you love mint and chocolate together? If so, the next time you have a cup of hot chocolate add a mint tea bag to it. Let it steep for about 3-5 minutes and then remove the bag. Voilà Mint hot chocolate!

Blueberry tea hot toddy

  • 1 oz of almond liqueur (like Amaretto)
  • 1 oz of orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier)
  • 3/4 cup of hot orange pekoe or blueberry tea
  • Whipped cream

        * Mix the liqueurs in a brand snifter or large glass. Pour in the tea. Add milk and sugar if desired and serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Makes one serving.

Café Canadian toddy

  • 1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup whisky (Irish works best)
  • 3 cups of hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream

        * Whip cream, adding the 4 teaspoons of maple syrup, until you have soft peaks. Pour the remainder of the maple syrup into 4 coffee cups.

        * Add the whisky to the hot coffee and pour equal amounts into the 4 cups. Leave room for whipped cream

        * Spoon whip cream mixture on top. Makes 4 servings.