Every year I debate with myself whether to decorate my home for Christmas or not. Although I know that Christmas isn't about the lights and the ornaments, there's a comfort in going through traditions. Ever since I left home and lived on my own, I always decided not to decorate - as I tend to go out of town and visit family that time of year. But this year though, I decided to put together a few simple things.
|A pillar candle for $1 per pair, on a red saucer. Surrounded by sparkly snowflake ornaments from C&B|
|Pinecones in a clear glass bowl... always nice to have some natural elements. It's not clear from the photo, but I love this asymmetrical glass bowl. Its free-form shape adds an organic touch.|
|I love the texture natural materials add to a space.|
And last, but not the least...
|Spanish-style hot chocolate|
Spanish-style hot chocolate...one of my most favorite childhood memories of Christmas. My family and I grew up drinking this chocolate, which my mom made frequently during the holidays, but also throughout the year -- to celebrate a birthday, to welcome friends our houseguests, or to enjoy with Spanish-Filipino style pastries for an afternoon snack. Each time my mom made it, it was always in a big pot for the whole family as well as friends dropping by - expected or not. The smell of chocolate would waft through the whole house, inviting everyone to gather around the table for a leisurely cup of chocolate. Now I've brought the tradition over here and shared it with friends as well.
This chocolate is not for the faint of heart -- it is made with pure unsweetened cocoa.
Here's what you'll need:
A small saucepan, preferably with a thick/heavy bottom, and ideally with a pouring spout.
A heatproof rubber spatula (or anything you can use for stirring)
This recipe makes hot chocolate for 2:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (the one we always used back home comes in round tablets, about an ounce each)
¼ cup water
3 teaspoons sugar (turbinado or raw sugar is good, but regular sugar is fine as well)
A tiny pinch of sea salt
A tiny pinch of instant coffee or instant espresso
3 tablespoons milk, or to taste
Start by melting the chocolate tablets with water over medium-low heat. Be sure to stir so that it melts evenly – the rubber spatula helps with scraping any chocolate on the bottom of the saucepan so it doesn’t burn.
Once the chocolate is melted, add sugar. Start with 3 teaspoons of sugar to make a bittersweet chocolate drink (my personal preference), or add more to make a sweeter drink. Add sea salt – it sounds unusual, but a little salt brings out all the flavors. Then add the coffee, because a little coffee makes chocolate taste even better.
Add 3 tablespoons of milk, or half-and-half if you want a richer flavor. This makes a dark hot chocolate, but you can always add more milk to lighten it up.
Pour into espresso or demitasse cups. Enjoy by itself, or with churros, biscotti, or shortbread cookies.
|thick, bittersweet hot chocolate in demitasse cups|
I've also been reading about this "twelve dates of Christmas" in the blogosphere. Might be something for A and I to consider. Unhurried, quality time together to focus on what's important amidst the often frenzied holiday state.
Hope you're doing something special with your loved ones this season!