One of my favorite ways to warm up, after crunching through snow or enduring a cold windy day, is to enjoy a hot comfort beverage that soothes and relaxes. After all, when you have a warm, full tummy, you are so happy and content that a nap just inevitably creeps up on you, doesn’t it?
Here are recipe ideas for five of my favorite hot comfort beverages. I keep ingredients for all of them in my pantry so they are easy to make, and easier still to add to your family cookbook. Just cut and paste them into your recipe template and feel free to tweak them to your own taste:
This lovely Indian-inspired hot tea beverage is about the most comforting hot comfort beverage I know. It is creamy, spicy and very relaxing.
Key spice: Cardamom
Shortcuts: Chai spices, tea bags, evaporated milk
3 cups water
3 teaspoons loose black tea
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2-1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
Place water, tea and spices in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer a few minutes. Strain. Add milk and sugar, then return mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Serves 4-6 (I like this a lot).
2. HOT CHOCOLATEFrom the halls of Montezuma comes this beautiful beverage kids to seniors adore. I like the depth of flavor the cinnamon adds.
Key spice: Cinnamon
Shortcut: Instant hot cocoa packets
1 cup milk (any type, including skim or soy)
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons sugar (or any sweetener you prefer)
Heat the milk and cocoa powder together in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the cinnamon, extracts and sugar, and whisk vigorously to blend the flavors and to create a foam on top. Serve garnished with whipped cream (or marshmallows if you must).
3. HOT EGGNOG
Sounds a bit crazy, but don’t worry, you won’t cook any eggs because you use egg white powder to thicken this hot comfort beverage.
Key spice: Nutmeg
Shortcut: Refrigerated or canned eggnog, thinned with milk and heated in microwave.
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon egg white powder
Heat the milk and nutmeg in a saucepan till warm. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Whisk in the egg white powder till frothy. Sometimes I add rum flavoring or a bit of Rum before serving. Whipped cream is a nice touch, too.
4. HOT MULLED CIDER
This is a traditional autumn hot comfort beverage that is a wonderful way to share the spirit of cold winter nights. I sometimes fortify it with a little rum or brandy.
Key spice: Cloves
Shortcut: Instant hot cider packets
Variations: Pineapple, Orange, Cranberry, Lemonade
3 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
2 lemons, juiced
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Lemon or orange peel
In a saucepan, bring apple cider to a boil. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar/honey, lemon juice and spices. Let steep for five minutes and strain into cups. Add lemon slice for garnish.
5. HOT LUCKY COFFEE
I love the taste of Irish Coffee, but I avoid the strong alcohol by stirring in some Irish Cream flavoring. This is a nice hot comfort beverage with cookies or sweet biscuits.
Key flavoring: Irish cream syrup
Shortcuts: Instant coffee
Good Variation: Butterscotch Coffee
1 cup hot coffee
1 Tablespoon Irish Cream coffee flavor syrup
Prepare coffee as you like it and add 1 Tablespoon of Irish Cream coffee flavoring. Serve with whipped cream. Drink coffee through whipped cream.
I am sure you have your favorite hot comfort beverages, so be sure to include them in your family cookbook, along with any of these ideas. (In 10 years won’t it be interesting to see how your family recipes change as tastes evolve due to different food products coming onto grocery store shelves almost daily?)
Keep warm and keep cookbooking!