Sunday, December 22, 2013

Yummy Hot Cocoa

~ several photos ~

I'm so proud of myself!  I actually remembered to photograph my projects yesterday!   Todays post will have the hot cocoa and nuts.  I'll post the cheesecake and ornament tomorrow.  That way, this post isn't loaded with too many photographs.  Let's get started {smile}
I started with the marshmallows.  These take about 3 1/4 hours to complete, so I started with these.  While they were setting up, I made the cheesecake.  While the cheesecake was baking, I made the nuts and hot cocoa mix.  (cheesecake photos tomorrow.)
I have tried my hand at crafting home-made marshmallows several times.  I'm pretty good in the kitchen, but mine never turned out right.  So, when I found, yet another recipe, my husband gasp.  This was my last attempt.  And if these didn't turn out right, I vowed never to try them again.  I first used this recipe earlier this month with great success, so here it goes, another round!
I cut the marshmallows into squares and rectangles.  Nothing fancy.  Just a sweet square of fluffy heaven {smile}.

I just love how rustic-looking they turned out.  I think the rough edges give them a 'hand-crafted' look, that is comforting, and cozy - so to speak {smile}.
The cocoa mix I made, uses three different chocolates: dark, milk, and white.  ok, for all of those chocolate experts out there, I know, white chocolate isn't really chocolate.  But, it is marketed as 'chocolate'.  So, I'm a copy cat.  I listed it as a 'chocolate'.  I added a little sugar to the mix to help off set the bitterness of the dark chocolate.  I roasted a few vanilla beans to help give it a rich, complex flavor.  
Now, for those who know me, I love packaging.  I think the packaging should match the product.  I think my 'stuff' is phenomenal , and so my packaging needs to convey that.
I measured out the cocoa mix, and scooped it into a pint canning jar.  (yes, I always have several sizes on hand.)  I cut a piece of brown packing paper into a large scallop circle and put it under the ring of the jar and screwed it closed.  I added a piece of red yarn around the lid of the jar, and added a 'directions' tag.

I put a lot of marshmallows into the white treat bag.  I added a white tea doily to the top of the bag, then I used my sewing machine to 'seal' the bag.  I gave it two passes, of a simple stitch.  I added a piece of red houndstooth pattern paper, cut in the shape of a banner, a little vintage christmas postcard matted with always artichoke card stock, and finally stuck a silver glitter snowflake with a vintage angel on it, as my bag topper.  I cut out a little tag and hand wrote the contents.  To hold it all together, I painted a little clothes pin white, and added some glitter to give it a bit of a sparkle, and clipped the decorative piece to the top of the bag.

I created a label for the set, and gave it a 'chalk board' look.  Used some super strong adhesive, and applied it to the front of the bag.  So, the chalkboard labeled bag holds the hand-ground triple chocolate hot cocoa mix, and the home-made vanilla-bean marshmallows.  A simple sweet treat, that is home-made and filled with love {smile}.  Now doesn't that scream 'Christmas'?

Now, onto the nuts!  Family and friends have been requesting my Cinnamon-Spice Nuts for the past few months.  So, I figured, that I would make another batch and package those up super cute, too.

This is actually a double recipe.  I use a strong cinnamon, along with cloves, all spice, ginger, nutmeg, and ground dried orange peel, to give these nuts a complex, yet home-y taste.
Ok, the packaging HAS to match.  I want the whole gift to look like they belong together.  So, I used a large coffee style bag (1# capacity), stamped a little, and created another chalk board style tag.  I used my super strong adhesive to hold the 'label' to the bag, and used a sweet artichoke green twill ribbon to add a pop of color to the bag, and to help bring out the green in the label.

The nuts and hot cocoa collection were packaged together in a larger brown paper handled bag.  And I didn't take a photograph of that {frown}.  These little collections are our family gift to folks who are really close to our hearts - 'family'.  We have another Christmas celebration today, Christmas eve, and two on Christmas day.  So, I need to get back into the kitchen a whip up a few more batches.  

I know the holidays can be crazy busy, hectic, and full of dead-lines.  Please take a moment to cherish those who do mean the most to you.  Even if it is spent chatting over a cup of hot cocoa, or sharing a 'special' cupcake.  Time moves fast, and before you know it, too much time has pasted.  Use this Christmas as your chance to spend time with those who do brighten your life, make you smile, give you hope, someone who loves you back, listens, and genuinely cares about you.  {smile}

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