Our days are filled this time of year. So much extra activity and traditions to cross off the list I’m finding myself more than ever longing for days that extend to 36 hours rather than 24. I’m not complaining one bit. When the activities include; Eating, Christmas tree acquiring, cookie decorating, eating, hot chocolate drinking, Christmas light seeing, party go-ing, eating, marshmallow making, etc., there really is nothing to complain about.
But in the back of my mind amid the chaos of the holiday planning I feel the mounting of a fresh start.
A friend recently said to me that her favorite holiday is New Years. I was shocked by this as I thought I wasn’t alone in the feelings of disdain for this holiday. My expectations of attending a fancy party and drinking champagne while ringing in the new year are often smashed with the reality of the near impossibility of finding a babysitter on December 31st, I’m no good at partying hard and late into the night, and I’m still tired from the previous week’s holidays to pay much attention to another party.
But what made this holiday a favorite for my friend wasn’t the fancy dresses, champagne and late night, it was the chance to start fresh. A time to reflect on all that had happened the previous year and to anticipate what is yet to come. It is a day to start clean with high hopes, new beginnings, and more insight from another year lived.
Last year my husband and I made some very lofty visions for our family at the start of the year. We made specific goals and wrote out the steps needed to happen in order for those goals to be reached. Each day of this past year had more focus and more drive because of the time we spent at the start of it. I felt closer to him as we were working together to accomplish something big. And now as we begin to reflect on the past year we can look back over those goals made nearly 365 days ago and see how far we’ve come and how incredibly blessed we are.
I don’t want to rush through this season. I’m savoring every peppermint scented minute of it but I really am looking forward to spending some time alone and with my husband to focus on what we hope for in the coming year.
What are you hoping for in 2012? Do you make resolutions or goals at the start of the new year?
Fresh Mint Hot Chocolate
I am on a mint kick these days. If it’s acceptable to add mint to it, I will. Even hot chocolate isn’t safe. What I love about this version is the mint is from fresh mint. It tastes clean and unlike the candy mint – which I also love – fresh mint gives a clean earthy punch that really suits the chocolate well.
If you have more will power than I, bottle up some of this mix and give it as a gift. It will be well received – I assure you.
1 cup cream
1/2 cup whole milk
5 sprigs fresh mint (more or less depending on desired mint flavor – this will give a pronounced flavor but not overpowering)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (about 9 oz) chopped dark chocolate
Bring the cream and milk to a simmer. Add the mint, turn off the heat then let sit for 30 minutes. With the back of a wooden spoon carefully bruise the mint in the cream mixture to release some of the essential oils.
Add the chocolate to a medium bowl.
Stir the salt into the cream then bring back up to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove the mint.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for one minute. Whisk the cream and the chocolate together. If some chocolate remains unmelted, simply place the bowl over a bain marie or gently microwave at 15-30 second intervals. Stirring after each heating.
Add the ganache (chocolate and cream mixture) to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.
When ready for a cup of hot chocolate add a couple of spoonfuls of ganache to a cup of heated milk. The amount is really based on taste. I like mine nice and rich so I add roughly 2 tablespoons to 6 oz of milk.
Serve with a homemade marshmallow if you so desire.
*Here’s another great idea – By simply adding a bit more milk and cream and having marshmallows and sugar cookies on hand you have the makings of a fine fondue. Check out Artazza.com for the recipe.