How Many Ways Can You Make Hot Chocolate – YYC Hot Chocolate Fest

YYC Hot Chocolate FestWarm delectable chocolate and sweet cherries delight the palate, filling the senses and warming the soul…aaahhh heaven. The Black Forest hot chocolate, one of 36 possible heavens in the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest this February. A fundraiser to support Calgary Meals on Wheels, this is the 5th year various coffee shops, restaurants and chocolatiers in Calgary roll out their signature hot chocolate recipes and compete for the best hot chocolate in town.

I was very excited to discover this event this year (and wondered why I had not heard of it before). Throughout the month of February you can try as many hot chocolates as you like, then go online to vote for your favorite, as well as leave comments and participate in the additional contests.

Hot Chocolate Fest

Black Forest

I have had the pleasure of enjoying 3 so far, the Black Forest, Australian Summer and the Creamy TLC, all different and unique, all with flavors that are hard to compete with. My goal is to try them all, which will be a challenge in itself in just 28 days, but it’s hard to resist when there are flavors such as Red Velvet, Tiramisu and Butterfinger Peanut Cup to enjoy.

I realize this means that there may be some days where I will have to have two or three hot chocolates just to make sure that I get them all in before the 28th, but sacrifices have to be made, and happily I will make this one.

Hot Chocolate FestI love the idea behind this Hot Chocolate Fest, (especially with chocolate involved!), it’s fun, gets the community involved and is a great way to create awareness. It also supports local businesses, encouraging people to explore the unique coffee shops and niches in Calgary, it’s creative, expressive and supports a good cause! It is also a great social event, one where you can invite friends to join you, and create more of a network online. Who doesn’t love hot chocolate? (yes I realize that maybe someone doesn’t, but many of us enjoy the thought of a nice warm drink on a cold day. It means cozy, it means social, it means tastes buds coming alive with the different and unique combinations to enjoy).

The other thing I love about the Hot Chocolate Fest is many of the vendors offer dairy free options for those of us who wish to do so. When I ordered my Black Forest at the Higher Ground Cafe, I could choose from soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk. Now this did mean no whip cream and my cherry sunk to the bottom, but it was great that this option was available so I could participate too, and my body would be happy with me.

A Hot Chocolate Fest just gives me an all around good happy feeling, making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So whether you are tempted to try one or try them all, go out and check out the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest. Don’t forget to pick up your Hot Chocolate Passport from one of the vendors and check off each one as you go along to enter for additional prizes. I might see you out there. Come back here and share what your favorite was. Happy Hot Chocolate Drinking!Hot Chocolate Fest

Holiday Delights Sugar and Dairy Free Egg Nog

One of the many things I love about Christmas is the fun holiday drinks you can have. Things like hot apple cider, Christmas Jones, Angels Delight and my favorite Egg Nog. It is a rich creamy drink that you can have virgin style or add a dash of rum if you like. Either way it is delicious, especially if you sprinkle a little nutmeg or cinnamon on top.

Only available at Christmas, as soon as it came out in the stores I would buy it – sometimes as early as October – to enjoy and savour my first cup. Matthew also really likes egg nog and was asking me to buy some for him as soon as he saw it in the store. Unfortunately egg nog has the two things our family doesn’t consume anymore, dairy and sugar; therefore I was in a bit of a quandary. Some things I could live without, I did not want egg nog to be one of them! So I went on a hunt for one that would meet our needs. There had to be one out there.

There are quite a few non-dairy options out there, Vita-soy makes a Holly Nog from soy milk, as does Earth Balance, Silk and So-Delicious (coconut milk) as well as nogs with almond milk. I even discovered a rice milk egg nog made by Rice Dream. But though these are all great dairy free options they are still sweetened with evaporated cane sugar, which we can’t have; we needed one with a natural sweetener.

Since I couldn’t find one in the stores,  I came home and hopped online to see what recipes I could find on the internet. (I love the internet it has opened up a whole new world for me and I often wonder how we ever got along without it). My preference was an egg nog made with almond milk so that is what I looked for; and I found 3 really good recipes that I have made and we all tried.

The first one I found on Incredible Smoothies, a website founded by Tracy Russell who eats a high raw vegan diet. She has all kinds of great smoothie recipes on her site. The recipe for egg nog, I really liked as it does not contain eggs, (which I was concerned about for the twins as egg nog usually contains raw eggs), and it was all made in the blender, sweetened with frozen bananas! It was fast, easy, simple and delicious!

The second recipe I found on Healthful Pursuit by Leanne Vogel, who shares recipes, travel, food and life experiences on her site. This recipe for egg nog contains egg yolks as well as coconut milk, but is cooked on the stove. At first I thought that this would not turn out so well as I thought “Warm egg nog? Really?” but it turned out to also be delicious! And the fact that it was cooked on the stove eliminated my concern about the twins having raw eggs, so they could have it too. It was also really good warm. Leanne says you can let it cool and enjoy it, but I found due to the coconut milk, it congealed in little chunks when it cooled, and though not bad you had small pieces of coconut milk in your egg nog. I have leftovers in the fridge that I will be heating up for sure when I enjoy it.

The last one I recently discovered this week, is completely vegan and is the new front runner for our favorite. Courtesy of SPUD (I love these guys but that’s a whole other post), a local & organic grocery delivery service, this egg nog recipe is creamy, delicious and super easy – just add all the ingredients to your blend and mix. Check out their recipe here.

The kids enjoyed both recipes too. Matthew’s favorite was the one from Incredible Smoothies, I really liked the one from Healthful Pursuit (I found it a little bit creamer and lighter) and the twins, well they liked both and didn’t seem to favor one or the other (they are so easy to please those two 🙂

Dairy free egg nog with almond milk

The only downside with the stove top recipe is you end up with leftover egg whites and unless you have something to use them for they end up going to waste.

Either way we now have 3 delicious, dairy free, sugar free egg nog options, which even John tasted and said is “Way better than the store bought stuff.” And we can easily make them at home whenever we like, and as much as we like 🙂

So if you’re looking for a non dairy egg nog that you can make yourself or simply wish to try something new, these recipes are great (and they also happen to be gluten free as well). Once you’ve tried them come back and comment letting us know what your favorite is, or if you’ve found another egg nog recipe that you like and are willing to share!

Have fun and enjoy that glass of egg nog!

Raw Vegan Egg Nog with Almond Milk

1 1/4 c. plain almond milk (you can make your own almond milk, it’s super easy)

2 frozen bananas, peeled and sliced

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

dash of clove

dash of sea salt

1 date (soaked for 10 minutes)

1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in a blender. Start on low speed and move up to high. Blend on high for 20-30 seconds until mixture is smooth. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired.

Almond Nog

4 egg yolks

2 1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk

1-400 ml can of coconut milk

1/4 c. coconut palm sugar

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch all spice

Separat the eggs and place the egg yolks in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan on medium heat bringing mixture to a simmer. Once simmering reduce heat to low.

Slowly add 1/4 c. of the hot liquid to the egg yolks in a bowl, whisking continuously. Continue adding liquid to the egg yolks until you’ve added 1 cup, then transfer new mixture to saucepan. Turn heat back up to medium and simmer for 4 minutes, whisking continuously.

Remove from heat and serve immediately or put into a mason jar and refrigerate.

Sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired.

*note recipes have been reposted with permission of the original authors


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