Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sipping Sundays in Snowland....kicking off 2012 with Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Sunday...a day for drinking chocolate, keeping warm and sharing recipes

As much as I like fine chocolate, I also remain addicted to a few chocolaty things that I loved as a child.  For me, December was always (and will always be) about After Eights. Yup, I am talking about those minty thin pieces of dark chocolate covered deliciousness.

In my younger days, when the 300 gram boxes of After Eights hit the store shelves en masse as the Christmas shopping season was ramping up, I would buy a box after about a week of thinking about it (or just long enough to appear as though I had some minimal level of self control). Then I would sit down on a Friday night and attempt to eat the box in its entirety. That's right - you heard me correctly - I would eat the WHOLE 300 GRAM BOX in one sitting. And I loved every minute of it. 

Then....my metabolism changed (sorry about this news young readers, but be warned that age 21 may very well be the end of chocolate binge-eating; it was a sad year for me...and for my thighs). So nowadays I attempt to eat a box in two sittings at a minimum, if not three.  I suppose that does not sound much better, but I also jog - a LOT - particularly on days when I consume too much chocolate.

I like to say that eating chocolate and being healthy is all about balance.  Imagine a teeter-totter where on one side the words EAT CHOCOLATE are written; on the other side the word EXERCISE is written.  The thing had better be horizontally balanced or you will have a problem.  In other words, if it is dipping down too low on the EAT CHOCOLATE side, then you might just gain weight.  If it is dipping too low on the EXERCISE side, then you had better eat more chocolate!  Well, that is what works for me.

So despite my attempts at becoming a proper chocolate connoisseur, I cannot break my habit of consuming the annual box (or, ahem, boxes) of After Eights. And I really do not see those little tasty mint thins as a complete evil since, after all, there are no artificial colourings or flavours in them. Besides, I have chosen to forgive any impurities in After Eights' ingredients in order to justify my addiction to them.

I suppose we all have habits that we cannot shake when it comes to treats that we liked as children. Mine is After Eights, my husband's is Turtles and I'm sure yours is something entirely different like Ferrero Rocher, Ovation or even a box of Pot of Gold (yikes). So do not deny it, and do not be embarrassed about it.  Embrace it.  Eat the darn box, get it over with and then move on to something better (better quality and better for you) in the new year.

That is what I am now doing.  I am ridding myself of the annual After Eight binge by dropping all chocolate with high levels of sugar for one month.  In fact, I am planning to eliminate all sugar by the end of the month for at least a week and eat only 100% cacao chocolate. You can read about my one-month master plan for January in an upcoming blog post later today.

So today, my "Sipping Sunday" is actually a hot chocolate recipe that I made yesterday (Saturday) while enjoying my last day of sugar freedom. It was really just another excuse to eat After Eights while warming up on a cold day. And it is a great way to use up leftover chocolate from Christmas, when you are sick and tired of snacking on it (ha ha ha, does that ever happen?)

So here is my recipe for a quick and tasty mint hot chocolate - with or without dairy - so that you can enjoy our own 'Sipping Sunday' (on whatever day of the week you wish):

Easy Soy Mint Hot Chocolate Recipe:

1. Heat up one cup of plain soy milk with no sugar added (I can't have much dairy right now because my nursed baby is not reacting well to it, but you could use regular 1% or 2% milk if you can have dairy).

2. Stir in 30 grams of semi-sweet dark chocolate (I used Nativa, but you can use whatever you like)

3. Then stir four (4) After Eights OR three (3) President's Choice 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate Mint Thins into the hot chocolate & soy mixture; stir until smooth (if you can't have ANY dairy, use the President's Choice Mint Thins because After Eights contain butteroil but PC Mint Thins do not, and PC Mint thins have no artificial flavours, colours and the cocoa 70% is specified on the package, unlike After Eights)

4. Top with Cool Whip (if you can't have dairy, but whipped cream if you can) and another After Eight.

Tip: The PC Mint Thins are mintier tasting and have more chocolate, so this will give you a mintier, more chocolaty beverage. However, this brand is only available in Canada, sorry non-Canadians!  There may be a British version though under a different brand, since the package says it is a "Product of England".

Voila!  Here is a chocolate beverage that will help you relax and energize you at the same time, and it will warm you up on a cold Sunday morning.

Here are the package details and ingredients information from the two chocolate mint thins that I discussed today:

After Eight Thin Dark Chocolate Mints, 300 g
Imported by Nestlé Canada Inc. (North York, ON Canada)
http://www.nestle.ca/
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa mass, glucose (from corn and/or wheat), cocoa butter, butteroil (from milk), soya lecithin, peppermint oil, vanilla, citric acid, invertase. May contain milk.

President's Choice (PC) 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate Mint Thins, 300 g
Loblaws Inc. (Toronto, ON Canada)
"Product of England"
http://www.pc.ca/
Ingredients: Dark Chocolate (unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, soy lecithin), sugar, glucose syrup, water, peppermint oil.  May contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk and/or wheat.

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