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Christmas Cocoa

Ever since my grandchildren were very small, we have had Christmas Day at our house. (They live about an hour away.) So they get up, as all children have over the years, and open their presents at home, play with them, work up and appetite, and head down the valley to our house.

Meanwhile, I am bustling about the kitchen, putting treats out on the table, baking a breakfast pastry of some sort, and making hot Mexican Cocoa. Now, every time I smell this cooking, I think wonderful Christmas thoughts!

If you are not familiar with Cocoa in this form, let me enlighten you. This comes particular brand comes in 6 blocks. It is identical to the cocoa I grew up with in Mexico and Central America, just a different brand. Each block is wrapped in paper. Down south, they do not usually add milk or were just served a luscious, chocolaty hot drink, rather thick and a bit grainy. This is how I like to make it:

Pour about 6 cups of hot water into a heavy 2 quart pot. Add 3 blocks of Mexican chocolate, 3 sticks of cinnamon, and (if available) one vanilla pod, cut lengthwise. On low/medium heat (watch it because it tends to boil over!) bring to a simmer and continue to barely simmer for at least an hour. Then add about 2 cups half and half and as much milk as you wish to make it chocolaty enough for your tastes. Turn it down to the lowest level your stove do not want it to boil! Yumm!...

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