I have come to the realization this year that I really can’t complain about this summer too much. I started the Summer Sucks Series as a way to get through what was promising to be an incredibly hot and miserable summer. It was a way to continue blogging like I wanted to but also to help myself and all of you out there in internet-land to enjoy a season that can be miserable. This summer, however, really hasn’t been all that unbearable. Yes, we’ve had some super hot days but they were mostly at the beginning of the summer. Up until last week, the weather has been cooler and we’ve had MUCH more rain than we had last summer. It’s been downright tolerable- nigh enjoyable. But I won’t go too far; we are back up into the 90’s after all.

As I said in my last post, summer is very close to being over and that means it’s nearly time for me to start planning for Christmas. I do this so incredibly early for a variety of reasons- one of them being that the really good sales on baking supplies will start soon, as they keep moving these things earlier & earlier in the year. Pretty soon the holiday baking sales will start sometime in May! But the deals really are too good to pass up simply because it’s too warm to start thinking about Christmas. So today’s recipe is a way to get into the holiday planning spirit as well as lift my morale and help me make it through the last leg of summer. Frozen Hot Chocolate is an incredibly tasty way to while away some time during the summer; whether it’s sitting at the desk making out the menu for Christmas dinner or sitting in a chair in the shade, dreaming of the cold weather to come!

You only need a few ingredients…

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(I do apologize if the pictures aren’t up to even my fairly low par. I’m having to get used to Windows 8 now and there’s definitely a learning curve when jumping from Vista to 8!) 

There are a few hot chocolate-type things you can use for this.  I happen to have some hot chocolate mix from last year hanging around in my pantry. It was part of a gift someone (who had no idea I would much prefer to make my own rather than use a mix- and I’m not ill-mannered enough to say anything; it was a GIFT after all) gave me and I hate wasting things, so I figured I’d use it for something. Turns out it works perfectly well for this. But you could also use Ovaltine, chocolate milk powder (such as Nesquick), or a homemade hot chocolate mix (there are dozens of versions out there. I urge you to find one that strikes your fancy and forgo the mixes). This recipe is done in two parts: making the chocolate mixture and blending everything together. You can make the chocolate mixture and then go work on your to-do list- like weeding the garden- while it cools, then come back and put the whole thing together and enjoy your frosty reward 🙂

You’re going to use a bain-marie, or double boiler, for this recipe. A lot of people find this intimidating because they’ve heard horror stories of scorched chocolate and steam burns from people who weren’t paying attention while they worked. Naturally these people made it sound as though they were minding their own business, being careful like the needed too, and the double boiler just burned their chocolate for no reason or steam just maliciously flooded out from the lower pan and gave them a nasty burn for no reason at all. In reality they weren’t paying attention and let the water boil dry in the lower pan and they ended up scorching the chocolate because the heat was too high. Or they decided they could just pick up the upper bowl without being careful; either not remembering or not caring that there is, in fact, steam in the lower pan and that it will burn you if you’re not paying attention. Anyway, it’s incredibly easy to make your own double boiler. No one needs those ridiculous double poiler pan inserts they sell at the store. Here’s my rig:

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A pan with about an inch of water in the bottom (or 2 if you’re using a pan as big as mine) and a bowl that will fit inside snugly without touching the water at all.  Bring the water to a simmer and keep it there- all you’re doing is creating enough heat to gently melt the chocolate in the bowl.  If your water starts to get low, add more and keep the simmer going. But as you’re only melting a few ounces of chocolate you should be fine with just the initial water.

Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, add the sugar and chocolate powder of choice. You’ll get something that looks grainy and no longer beautifully smooth…

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That’s how it should look- don’t worry. Now add 1/2 a cup of the milk, slowly. You may want to switch to a whisk for this. I found it made things easier. Keep the heat under the double boiler while adding the milk so that the chocolate doesn’t cool too quickly and make things harder to mix. You’ll end up with a nice, smooth mixture:

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Very nice! Now let this sit for a little while and come to room temperature. Once it’s cooled you’ll need the rest of the milk and some ice- about 3 cups. Add the chocolate mixture to the blender as well and hit the “icy drinks” button until everything is as smooth as your blender can get it. You end up with…

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Something frosty and intensely chocolatey! I used semi-sweet chocolate chips for this batch and it’s almost too chocolatey for me, not being a huge chocolate fan.  Normally I make this with milk chocolate chips or bars but I was out. This is also fantastic with a little mint extract or candy canes crushed and added before blending. A drizzle of caramel wouldn’t go amiss either 🙂 I should also warn you that this WILL NOT taste like a milkshake- just like hot chocolate tastes a bit different than regular chocolate milk. This tastes like hot chocolate, just cold!

I know, I know; I skipped a week. I was a fool to think that I could get a blog post done while getting ready to send my girls off to their first day of school (Zachariah is in preschool and they didn’t start until this week). So I missed a week. I am sorry about that. But the up side is that this week I get to write that there’s only TWO MORE WEEKS OF SUMMER LEFT!!! YAY! I am so done with the heat that has made it’s way back to our little part of the world and I am beyond ready for Autumn!

The Recipe: 

3 Oz Chocolate of Choice (I prefer milk but you can use anything you like/have on hand)

5 t Sugar

2 t Hot Chocolate Mix (Homemade, NesQuick, Ovaltine, or any kind of hot chocolate mix works)

1 1/2 C Milk, divided

3 C Ice

The Method:

*In a double boiler (as described above), melt the 3 ounces chocolate until smooth.

*Add the sugar and chocolate powder and stir to combine.

*Add 1/2 C of the milk and whisk until smooth, still over the heat in the double boiler.

*Remove mixture from the heat and let cool to room temperature. (This will only take about 15 minutes)

*Put ice, remaining milk, and chocolate mixture into the blender and blend until smooth (as smooth as you can get it. It seems every blender leave a little ice un-crushed.)

*Pour, garnish as desired, and enjoy!

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