Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe {Clean Eats}

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Snowed in? Here’s an idea – try this…

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe (made with only four ingredients)

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe - only 4 ingredients!

I used hot chocolate packets for many years. They were just too convenient. Open, add to hot milk or water, stir, drink. So simple, right? But not only can you make from-scratch hot chocolate with the same simplicity, you can also control the quality of ingredients and make it a little healthier.

Plus, have you seen what they put in some conventional hot chocolate packets? Here’s an example from one popular, unnamed brand:

SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.

What is all that stuff? There are more than a dozen ingredients in that list, and if you’re a Michael Pollan fan like me, you’ll notice you can’t pronounce many of them. Food Rules fail. On top of that, who puts vegetable oil in hot chocolate? I mean, can you imagine making hot chocolate and stirring vegetable oil and corn syrup into your mug? And instead of sprinkling in cinnamon, you sprinkled in a dash of sodium aluminosilicate or sodium caseinate. Yum?

You know what the ingredient list is for the Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder I used? It’s:

Cocoa

Yup, that’s it.

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe - only 4 ingredients!

But, then, I started thinking, well maybe they used semi-sweet chocolate pieces that were melted down?

However, here’s the ingredient list for a Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar:

Semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin – an emulsifier, vanilla)

I’m not saying the long ingredient list is bad, it’s just…why would you want to eat that when you can eat hot chocolate made with only four simple ingredients?

(I keep referencing Ghirardelli because I bought a bunch on major sale awhile back, but there are lots of good, pretty clean chocolate producers out there. Check your local health food store.)

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe - only 4 ingredients!

My healthy hot chocolate ingredient list contains the following:

Milk, cocoa powder, raw sugar, vanilla extract

It’s a simple list and pretty much just as easy to make as the kind that comes out of a box. I wrote the recipe for heating the milk on the stove because I’m one of those hippies who doesn’t like using the microwave. But, you can use whatever you want to warm up your milk.

Bottom line – you don’t need those packets once you know how easy from-scratch hot cocoa is!

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe - only 4 ingredients!

Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe {Clean Eats}
 
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Ditch the packets of hot chocolate that come out of a box! Clean eats hot chocolate is just as easy and a thousand times better. Here’s a simple recipe that uses only four primary ingredients.
*Vegetarian, Vegan*
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 cup, plus 1-2 tablespoons milk of choice (I used rice milk, vegan)
  • 2 rounded teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar (or sweetener of choice)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cinnamon, optional
Instructions
  1. Place milk in a small pot over medium low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place cocoa powder, sugar, and extra tablespoon of rice milk in a small bowl. Whisk until a paste/thick mixture forms and powder is absorbed. Add additional tablespoon of rice milk, if needed.
  3. Whisk cocoa mixture into milk mixture. Heat till hot but not boiling.
  4. Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon, if using.
  5. Serve and enjoy once the drink is cool enough to safely drink.
Notes
The directions above are for a stovetop preparation, but you can just as easily make this in the microwave.

Multiplies easily if you need more than a single serving.

 

Hope you enjoy this Healthy Hot Chocolate Recipe!

Just Right Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies {Recipe}

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A new cookie has taken the lead as my favorite cookie – oatmeal chocolate chip. The old favorite was chocolate chip. I know, it’s not much of a difference. And yet, that simple addition of oats gives the texture and flavor something special that I just love.

Of course, this meant I needed to come up with a recipe so I could make the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies just the way I like – a little chewy. I started with this recipe for butterscotch oatmeal cookies that I made a couple years ago with good success, but I made a couple changes, also looking at my dough ball recipe for some ideas. I liked the flavor and chewiness of those butterscotch cookies, but I wanted to reduce the sugar and make them less flat, plus I wanted to make far fewer cookies. I played with the recipe over several batches, about 8 or 9 over the last couple years. I started by halving the butterscotch cookie recipe, adding flour, and reducing the sugar amounts. The first couple tries were decent but not great. I thought simply adding flour would make the cookies less flat, but it didn’t work as I expected. I tried some batches with far less sugar, far less flour, different amounts of butter, using baking powder instead of baking soda, and many other variations. Each try was just okay but not just right. I tracked my adjustments and made notes along the way. Most recently, I tried doing some google research.

I did some online searching for how to make cookies chewy, and it turns out sugar is one thing that that helps make them chewy (so much for reducing it lol). Apparently using melted butter and baking soda instead of baking powder helps, too. So, I tried a couple more times, tweaking things all along the way. The final result is what I’d consider a “just right” oatmeal chocolate chip cookie – a little chewy, a little soft, and a little crispy all in one delicious package.

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5.0 from 1 reviews

Just Right Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies {Recipe}
 
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The ingredients are simple and the results are delicious. They whip up pretty quickly, too! I started with this cookie recipe and experimented, analyzed, and re-experimented, and re-analyzed over several batches until I was happy with the results. According to some google research, melted butter, sugar, and baking soda help give the cookie a chewy texture, so keep that in mind if you modify the recipe at home, especially if you like chewy cookies, too. Be sure you use kosher salt or reduce the amount if you use table salt instead. And mini chocolate chips distribute better than large ones, so I was able to reduce that amount versus the ¾ cup of the regular size chocolate chips I’d recommend. Hope you like these cookies as much as I do!
*Vegetarian, vegan options listed below*
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cup quick-cooking oats (old-fashioned would probably work just fine, too)
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt (reduce amount if you use table salt, maybe ¼ – ½ depending on how you like your cookie flavor)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly (vegan – sub Earth Balance or similar product)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg (vegan – sub a flaxseed egg)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (or use ¾ cup regular sized chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three baking sheets with parchment paper. Note: I could bake all the cookies in one batch with 2 shelves and 3 baking sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, add oats, flour, salt, and baking soda. Whisk to evenly combine.
  3. In a medium bowl mix butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Make sure butter mixture isn’t too hot so it doesn’t cook the egg when add it, and add the egg and vanilla. Whisk to evenly combine.
  4. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and gently mix with a large spatula. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Using a medium sized sorbet scoop (2 tablespoon), scoop dough and evenly distribute on baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches of space in between each ball of dough.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes, until edges are slightly brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets to room temperature. Enjoy!

***
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Happy baking! Thanks for reading!

Which do you prefer: regular chocolate chip or oatmeal chocolate chip?

Emergency Blondies for Two

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Sometimes you just need dessert…BAD!

Hubby and I celebrated our Valentine’s Day date with dinner and a musical. Unfortunately, we ran out of time at dinner to order dessert and decided to get some after the show. Double-unfortunately, the restaurant we wanted to hit up was closed! So, I took matters into my own hands and threw this together.

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Emergency Blondies for Two

These Not So Sweet blondies may not have technically perfect texture, but they whipped together quickly and easily for those moments of desperation where you need want something FAST for dessert. It only took me about 5 minutes of simple mixing with basic ingredients, and I had these babies in the oven. Add in about 12 minutes of bake time and a little cool-down-time, and I had dessert prepped in a snap with a fully satisfied sweet tooth.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sucanat (or sub sugar for a sweeter flavor)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two individual baking dishes with non-stick spray
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Cream sucanat and butter together (you could use a hand held, but I found a firm spatula to be more efficient and faster). Stir in egg and vanilla till evenly combined.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix till just combined (careful to not overmix).
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Evenly distribute dough into prepared baking dishes.
  7. Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Not So Sweet Heart-Shaped Cookie Cake for Two

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Love is in the air!

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Or maybe that’s just the smell of sweet baked goods glowing gently from your oven? ;) I know I made a little something-something today for my sweetie. ;)

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Check out the beautiful flowers hubby got me for Valentine’s Day! I can’t wait for all those lilies to bloom!

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Hubby and I had a late lunch at Earthfare while we were out running errands. I had chicken noodle soup and salad.

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Then we took a pit stop at Barnes & Noble for some snackage and magazine browsing.

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I had a bite of hubby’s coffee cake.

It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to make a coffee cake from scratch some time. I’ve done a quick coffee cake before (click), but I want to do one NJ style next mirror.

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I actually snagged a vegan chocolate chip muffin from Earthfare before we headed to the book store.

I don’t know if you do this, but when I find something I like, I look for it relentlessly, no matter the odds. I say odds, because for awhile I thought Earthfare had canned these delicious little muffins. One day I was seeing them there all the time, the next…no mas. *sad face* Seriously, I’ve spent the last few months making sure to swing by the muffin case on my grocery trips to look for this little guy and for the last few months, I’ve been disappointed. But today, just as I was giving up on my scrumptious little treat, there it was! Score!

Perhaps I should come up with a recipe to replicate them just in case, eh? ;)

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Hubby and I were pretty tired today, so we did a cheat meal and got a rotisserie chicken for dinner from Earthfare. We also made micro-baked potatoes with butter and dried herbs, plus steamed organic broccoli with a drizzle of real butter.

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I know I said I was tired, but not too tired to bake something sweet for Valentine’s Day.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about cookie cakes lately…I don’t know why.

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But…I knew I just had to make one for V-day…heart-shaped of course.

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I also went for a Not So Sweet concoction because that’s how I roll.

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My frosting technique could use some work, but that’s another story. lol

Heart Shaped Cookie Cake for Two

Ok, so this cookie cake serves more like 4 or 5 people. But, it’s large enough so as not to be confused with a regular cookie and smaller than your normal cookie cake. I made this using a Not So Sweet cookie base, though the chocolate chips and buttercream frosting definitely add a sweet kick here. While the cookie is less sweet than normal, I didn’t want to mess with the buttercream. I’m not sure a Not So Sweet buttercream would go over, though I do have some ideas using sucanat to test the waters.

Be sure to set your butter out long enough in advance for your butter to come to room temperature…at least for the frosting part. You could probably microwave the butter to soften it a bit for the cookie base, but that won’t go over so well with the buttercream. Luckily, if you set the butter out when you start, by the time your cookie cake is baked and cooled, your butter should be close.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9×12 heart-shaped cookie pan with non-stick spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and spray lightly on top of the paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light. Stir in egg and vanilla until well-combined.
  4. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix until just combined (incorporate all dry flour, but be careful to not overmix). It will look like there isn’t enough of the wet mixture, but be patient and carefully combine.
  5. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Pour cookie dough into the baking pan and carefully press cookie dough into the bottom of the pan. It will be a very thin layer of dough. If you want, wet fingers and smooth dough.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until edges are lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  8. Let cookie cake cool to room temperature and decorate with buttercream frosting, recipe following (see below).

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Cookie cake always makes me think of my friends Justin and Emily. When they got married, they had a traditional wedding cake AND a cookie cake because Justin loves them so much. It was the only time I’ve seen a cookie cake at a wedding…and it was awesome! Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure Justin always gets cookie cakes for his birthdays, too (even the ones on boats).

Buttercream for Cookie Cake Decoration

This recipe makes just enough buttercream to decorate your Heart-Shaped Cookie Cake for Two. You may even have some leftover!

I used a stand mixer to do the work, but you could use a hand held mixer or even do it by hand.

Be sure to use the gel coloring recommended – the drop kind is too liquidy. You can get the gel color at stores selling cake decorating tools. I got mine from Michael’s.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 – 2 teaspoon milk
  • gel coloring of desired color

Directions:

  1. Starting on a low speed (so the sugar doesn’t go flying everywhere), whip sugar and butter together until just combined. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add milk, as needed, but in small increments, just until mixture comes together to desired texture.
  2. Use a toothpick to add a bit of gel color to frosting and mix in until evenly distributed. Repeat until frosting reaches desired color.
  3. Put frosting into a decorating bag with tip or decorating-gun-tool and decorate cookie cake as desired.

Do you prefer cake or cookie cake?

Christmas Tree Shopping 2010

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The holiday cheer is definitely in the air at the Chic house! With the holiday both speeding up and slowing down things, I had to ensure there was time for a TREE!

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Hubby and I headed out last night to pick out our Christmas tree. My family always purchased real Christmas trees growing up, but in recent years, my dad has decided that they’re too much of a fire hazard. So, they now do faux Christmas trees. I am still a big proponent of real Christmas trees because it seems more traditional, brings back fond memories, and makes the house smell lovely.

(Though I will admit, those pre-lit trees seem pretty darn convenient)

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We visited the Darrell Simpson Family lot, where they always have lots of beautiful trees.

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I also enjoy how festive their set up is.

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Trees galore!

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I’m glad hubby and I bundled up because it was freezing outside! I only wish I had worn gloves and a hat!

I didn’t feel bad for myself so much as the poor guys working there who had to be out there all day! I wanted to give them all blankets and hot cocoa…poor guys!

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Red, white, and green!

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On the hunt.

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I can haz dis one?

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Unfortunately, a giant Christmas tree is out of our price range and wouldn’t fit in our house anyways. Not to mention I’d have to double my collection of lights, tinsel garland, and ornaments for a tree that size. Hubby and I picked out a nice six-footer.

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We brought the tree home just as the sun was setting.

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I was super excited about getting at least some of the basic decorations up. I quickly put on an iTunes Christmas radio station in the background.

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First, the lights!

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Then, the tree skirt.

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Then, a moment to notice that I was purchasing a tree from a family who has been operating since 1941!!

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Next, a moment to remember I had cookies in the house.

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Yeppirs…tasty oatmeal chocolate chip.

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Upon remembering I had cookies, I did what any normal Christmas-tree-decorating girl would have done. I made homemade hot cocoa (from scratch).

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Oh yes! Hot cocoa and cookies…not for you Santa…not yet. ;)

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After a cookie, hot cocoa, and some tinsel garland, I decided to call it a night. Hubby and I will finish the rest of the decorations soon. Woohoo! Can’t wait to pull out my favorite ornaments! :)

Reader question: If you celebrate Christmas, do you prefer real trees or fake trees?

Homemade-Better Oats + Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

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Two work days down…only one to go before I get to enjoy some vacation time! Yay!

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Breakfast this morning was extra yummy thanks to two homemade ingredients.

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homemade almond butter

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and homemade granola.

I know it seems like a lot for so many homemade things to be in my eats, and two years ago I would have scoffed at myself like…really…WHO makes their own almond butter. But, I do. And it’s easy. You could do it too…promise.

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The almond butter and granola made the oats over the top.

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By the way, the chic-turquoise spoon really helped breakfast taste better, too. hehe

In today’s bowl of oatmeal:

  • extra-thick oats
  • milk
  • water
  • chia seeds
  • cocoa powder
  • banana
  • chocolate chips
  • coconut flakes
  • homemade granola
  • homemade almond butter

Nom!

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In other news, Bailey has figured out a new trick.

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He has mastered the art of finding the coziest, plushest, and most comfortable spot on any resting area. Note his body stretched across two pillows and one blanket. Nice, dog…nice.

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Hubby picked up Which Wich for lunch for us, but I added some cooked veg to complete our meal – steamed cabbage and baby carrots.

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Pickles.

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Plus a WW chicken sandwich, BBQ sandwich, lettuce, pepperoncini.

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The boys are liking the new couch.

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Oh and I have a new dough ball flavor for you!

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Inspired by Annie the Baker

*Be sure to check out the original – chocolate chip dough balls – click for recipe*

*Update – I’ve made a new variation – Butterscotch Oatmeal Dough Balls! Click for the recipe*

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick butter, softened/room-temp
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg (or flaxseed-egg)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup toffee chips (I used Heath)
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugars and butter till creamy. (I used a handheld mixer, but you could probably just use a whisk). Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it will appear there is not enough liquid for the amount of dry ingredients, but continue mixing. It will form into a dough, it will just be a firm dough. See tips above for combining. Careful to not overmix.
  5. Gently fold toffee and chocolate chips into the dough, without overmixing.
  6. Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before using a small sorbet scoop to scoop out dough into small mounds. Roll each mound into a ball and spread evenly on a baking sheet, leaving roughly 2-3 inches between each ball.
  7. Bake balls for 10-14 minutes, depending on how set you want your centers. If you use egg, and you’re paranoid like me, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure the centers of the balls are at least 160 degrees F, which many web sites say is the safe temp to eat eggs.
  8. Let your dough balls rest on the baking sheet to cool at least 5-10 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

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Oh yes! Another tasty dough ball flavor comin atcha! Booyah!

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I brought a couple dough balls to Zumba tonight. Gina and Jane thoroughly enjoyed them. :)

Btw, zumba class was awesome! I’m now on 3 days in a row! I’m not teaching this week, but I do still go to classes of other instructors. I helped lead Aaja Soniye and Alright. Alright is one of my new faves. It’s a hot Pitbull track and I highly recommend downloading it because it’s F-U-N!!! I just wish I could show you our dance to the song.

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On my way home from class, I swung by Pasta & Provisions to get some fresh spaghetti.

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Oh and some of their famous rosemary foccacia.

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Hubby and I did a simple spaghetti dinner tonight.

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Is anything better than fresh pasta?

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Maybe dough balls? ;)

One more work day and it’s turkey time! I’m also looking forward to spending some time with family and hopefully picking up some of my unfinished crochet and knitting projects. I’m oh-so-good at starting them and not-so-good at finishing them. lol

Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? Where are you going or how far away from home?

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