Today was the first big snow storm of the season. 12+ inches of wet, heavy snow, accompanied by high winds, shut down schools and businesses across Wisconsin and, according to news reports, across a good portion of the nation.

Living 45 minutes away from where I work, there was little chance that I would be making it in. A call to the jail administrator, where I work, confirmed that driving would not be in my best interests as long as I made sure there was enough staff on hand to feed the inmates. Luckily most of my staff lives much closer and they were able to make it to work. While I would still be doing some work from home, that meant a full day of hanging with the wife and daughter, the former also not able to go to work and the latter, kept home from day care.

First priority though would be shoveling out the driveway, a task I was not looking forward to considering the amount of snow we received and the heaviness of said snow, but it had to be done. My wife and I have a very set division of labor when it comes to shoveling snow; I shovel and she makes the Hot Chocolate for when I am done. Somebody is getting the better deal out of this and I don’t think it is me, though a cup of homemade cocoa is a nice reward for an early morning workout. I’m not talking that crappy, instant Hot Chocolate, but the real deal, made from scratch.

I don’t know why instant Hot Cocoa is so popular. First off, it tastes like crap. I don’t care how much of the stuff you use, it always tastes watery and insipid. Secondly, homemade cocoa is not that hard to make and it doesn’t take that much longer than the instant. Even the simple recipe on the side of cocoa powder containers is 100 times better than the instant stuff so why do yourself the disservice?

As you can probably tell, I am sort of a closet Hot Chocolate snob. It’s true. I can admit it, and I have numerous recipes to prove it. many of my recipes are rich, decadent adult versions of Hot Chocolate but I also have quite a few less sinful recipes, for every day consumption, that will please all tastes.

Since the whole family is home the recipe I offer up is a great all around cocoa recipe. It is rich enough and has just a hint of a bitter edge to please adults, but is still sweet enough and not so overly rich, that kids enjoy it also.

Every Day Hot Chocolate

serves 4

3 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Half and Half
1 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 pinch Salt

Combine milk, half and half, chocolate, chips, cocoa powder, and sugar in a pot and heat over medium high heat, stirring regularly so that the chocolate doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn. Once the chocolate has melted simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Serve immediately with your favorite garnish.