Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]

Chai tea is a weakness of mine, and I really like going for the good stuff. Hey, I’ll admit it: I was an ardent lover of whatever Starbucks was slinging for years. Growing up in the sticks, I would always excitedly go to Starbucks whenever I visited my family in NYC just for their amazing chai. It was such a novelty for me! Then, as I got older, I saw what real chai tea was (thanks, in part, to the dearly departed Chaiwalla in Salisbury, CT, my Yelp review circa November 2010 still shining bright); while always good in a pinch, my love for mass-produced sugar-laden chai concentrates largely fell by the wayside. Brewing chai with black tea and aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, anise, black pepper, and cardamom, is so warm and satisfying. It’s far more guiltless as the amount of ingredients can be controlled. Less sugar? Plant-based milk? More cardamom? Experiment as you please!

I also love a good cup of hot cocoa. I love how I preached steering away from aforementioned chai concentrates in the preceding paragraph, yet I’m about to drop this gem: I LOVE DUNKIN’ DONUTS HOT COCOA. Good lord, that stuff is addictive! I occasionally throw caution to the wind. I think to myself, “Is it bad to consume Silicon Dioxide and Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate every so often? Is it?” Okay…well…yeah, it’s not. Ha! Regardless, it fills a hole in my soul every now and then. However, at the end of the day, I always try to eat recognizable ingredients; I often make my own cocoa at home, where the ingredients are merely milk, cocoa, sugar, homemade vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. That I can recognize. I don’t recall where I got this recipe from, but I’ve been making it this way ever since I was in high school. It’s definitely tried and true!

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]

I love putting a hit of cinnamon into my cocoa every now and then, when I remember to grab a little before drinking it. The slightly sweet spice really brings out the richness of the cocoa. Then I started conjuring all of the flavors that border on sweet and savory that complement chocolate so well: curry, coconut, pepper, salt, et al. Why couldn’t a nice chai mix work well in cocoa?

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]

I have often made my own chai mixes with individual spices and black tea, but I’m Sandra Lee-ing this recipe with some chai tea bags. Trust: It’ll make life easier. Be sure to check the ingredients! I found this Pure Leaf Chai Tea on sale at my local grocery store, and the ingredients are solid: black tea, cinnamon, ginger root, cardamom, chicory root, cloves, black pepper, and marigold petals.

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]

By the way, best mug ever right? RIGHT.

Enjoy your cocoa, friends.

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]
(Serves One, but of course!)

Ingredients:

– 8 – 10 ounces milk, dairy or non-dairy (milk amount depends on your mug size!)
– 2 tablespoons cocoa
– 1 – 2 tablespoons sugar or sweetener of choice, to taste
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– Dash of salt
– 1 chai tea teabag (I used Pure Leaf)

Before We Get Started…

– Of course, it’s very easy to expand the proportions of ingredients to make this with multiple people! I have not tried; I’ve only developed this single serving recipe. If you have success making expanding the serving sizes of this recipe, please share in the comments!

Directions:

1.) Place a small saucepan over medium heat and add milk; bring to just below boiling, then whisk in cocoa until combined. Add sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk to incorporate. Lower heat to low and add chai tea bag. Seep tea bag in milk for 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Allow tea bag to steep for an additional 3 – 5 minutes. Remove tea bag and pour cocoa into mug, preferably a cute one with some cheeky illustrations or phrases.

2.) Enjoy!

– – – –

NOTE: This post was not sponsored by Pure Leaf, but I’ve got to give them a shout out because their chai blend worked wonders for this recipe!

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Classic Mac & Cheese

There is little in this world that I find more comforting than a hot bowl of macaroni and cheese. Long gone are the days of neon-yellow Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Spirals, for I no longer have the “Blue Box Blues“. As much I love a box of Annie’s in a pinch, all of these boxed mac and cheeses are loaded with sodium, regardless. (How I’d come home from school in my teenage years and down an entire box without exploding is still beyond me…) Of course, like many, I love to experiment with different cheeses, noodles, vegetables, and methods when it comes to mac and cheese creation. Still, in my opinion, it’s the simplest method that works the best for me. In just an extra five minutes compared to ripping open a box of dried noodles and questionable powder in a packet, you can make a perfectly satisfying bowl of mac and cheese with the full knowledge of what ingredients you’ve put into it.

mac and cheese

Slate counter top and old metal measuring cups. Instagram ready! 

Classic Mac & Cheese
(Serves Two if you’re generous, Serves One if you’re selfish)

Ingredients:
– 1 cup dried pasta of choice (I prefer a whole-wheat elbow or rotini pasta)
– 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 2 tablespoons salted butter
– 1/3 cup milk
– 4 ounces shredded cheese (I prefer 3 ounces of sharp cheddar with an ounce of Colby Jack; feel free to switch it up!)
-A few generous shakes of garlic powder (optional)

Before We Get Started…

This recipe involves making a roux, since you’ll essentially be making a Béchamel sauce. Some rouxs can be made darker than others, but we’re making a simple white roux in this case. Make it with a whisk, if possible, but I find it just as good to use a fork to mix a roux.

…and if you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about when I say “roux”, this is a pretty good introduction.

Directions:

1.) Fill saucepan with water and bring to boil; cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain when finished, rinse, and set aside.

2.) Place additional saucepan over medium heat; add butter and slowly melt. Once melted, add flour. Whisk for approximately 2 – 3 minutes to create a roux ; once flour and butter are combined, add milk and whisk. Bring mixture to a slow boil. Once bubbles begin to break the surface, add cheese and stir quickly to form cheese sauce. Remove from heat. Add garlic powder, if desired. Add pasta and stir.

cheese blind
My future, and I’m okay with this.