Remember The Santa Clause movie? The one where Tim Allen picks up a business card and turns into Santa Claus? It was a childhood favorite of mine (Ok, it’s still a favorite, even at the age of 27!). I always thought the best part was near the end, when the elf mechanic shows Santa Clause the hot cocoa dispenser in his new sleigh. To me, dispensing hot cocoa with a push of a button was just about the most magical thing in the world! Of course, now my espresso machine is magical to me, a different type of magic called caffeine…
Anyway, I can’t make hot chocolate now without thinking about that cocoa dispenser. Part of the reason it was so magical was the though of having cocoa whenever I wanted…not just when my parents said it was Ok.
Of course, that is part of the dilemma of being an adult right? Hot cocoa is now available to me on a whim, but I’m keenly aware that there would be consequences if I had it whenever I felt like it! Ah, the blissful ignorance of childhood.
Even though I don’t feel great about indulging in it often, at least now I get to experiment with better versions than the powdered Nesquick of my adolescence.
From scratch Hot Cocoa with Mergingue! It’s seriously the BEST!
I kept seeing adorable pictures of meringue topped hot chocolate floating around Pinterest, and I had to make some too! Mine are a little different, because I opted for softer texture, rather than perfect form. There are two ways to make meringues. The really slow way, where you leave them in the oven for like 4 hours at a super low temperature, and the faster way, where the oven is only on for 30 minutes, at a little bit higher temperature.
The benefit of the first way is that they retain their exact shape. They don’t puff up in the oven at all, and you can wow your friends with gorgeously piped designs. The benefit of the second way, is that they are basically a marshmallow, with a tiny bit of a crispy exterior. Marshmallow texture is better for hot cocoa, yes? I think so!
Since they’re going to puff up a little bit and mar the design, make it easy on yourself and just cut the end of the piping bag off (you could easily use a ziplock bag) and make two dollops. *bloop* *bloop* You’ll still impress your friends, because you made cocoa with meringue topping from scratch!
Why are there tiny dollops mixed with the regular sized ones? I ran out of parchment paper, so I had to squeeze all the batter onto one jelly roll pan. I was worried if I tried to add a couple more rows of full sized meringues that they would puff up too much and touch each other.
As far as servings go, the recipe for cocoa makes either 4 small servings or 3 large servings. The meringues are enough for more than 4 cups, but that depends on how many you want to add. Far be it from me to put a limit on your serving of soft marshmallow-y meringue. It would be great to make a batch of these right before Thanksgiving or Christmas, then you can pull them out as people want cocoa! Besides, you may just need to snack on a few while you’re cooking!
The crispy exterior of the meringues turns instantly delicate and soft after being dipped in the hot cocoa for just a few seconds (I made sure to test this many times).
Now let’s talk about the cocoa. I’m a dark chocolate fan, so my ratio of sugar to cocoa may be a little bit too high in the cocoa department for some. Just taste and adjust to your liking. I like the taste of coconut milk, but it’s way too rich to drink straight, so I watered it down by half for this recipe. If I was making it for a crowd, I would probably use whole cow’s milk. Not everybody likes a subtle coconut flavor in their cocoa, although I don’t know why!
I have some leftover hot chocolate that I’m going to turn into a mocha this morning (if you want to do this, just add 1-2 shots of espresso or 4 oz strong brewed coffee to 8 oz cocoa). It will make the child and the adult in you oh so happy!
Thanks for reading!
- FOR THE HOT CHOCOLATE:
- 4 cups milk of choice (I used ½ coconut milk + ½ filtered water)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- FOR THE MERINGUE:
- 3 egg whites (room temperature is best)
- ¾ cup superfine sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- FOR THE MERINGUE:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line 2 jelly roll pans with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until satiny peaks form.
- Lower beater speed to medium-low, and beat in one tablespoon of sugar at a time until it is all combined. Increase speed to medium again and mix until the peaks are stiff and shiny.
- Turn mixer off and add vanilla extract, and mix one more time on low speed, just until combined.
- Transfer meringue to piping bag. Cut the tip of the bag off, about ½" from the bottom. For each meringue, pipe one dollop, about the width of a half dollar, and then a smaller dollop on top of that. It makes roughly 2 dozen. Aim for 12 meringues per pan.
- Place in the oven and lower the temperature to 300 degrees.
- Cook 15 - 20 minutes.
- When it's done the outside will be crispy, but the inside will give when pressed. If it's not done, it will give too much and be more soupy than springy.
- Once it's done, don't take it out of the oven. Turn the oven off, but prop the door open a little and let it cool in there for 30 minutes as the oven cools down.
- Using a stiff spatula, scrape the meringues off of parchment paper, and top hot chocolate.
- Meringues will keep in an airtight container for about 2 days. They are still good after that, but texture may not be satisfactory.
- FOR THE HOT CHOCOLATE:
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk sugar and cocoa powder until fully mixed and light brown in color. Turn heat on medium and slowly whisk in milk.
- Add vanilla extract, and whisk until there are no more lumps of powder.
- Stir frequently until milk is simmering. If you're using dairy milk, be careful not to let it boil.
*Nutrition Information is for 1/4 the recipe, roughly 8 oz. Also it is estimated based of using whole cow’s milk*
*Nutrition information is for 1/12 of the recipe, about 2 Meringues*