Polish off a wonderful dinner party or holiday gathering with the flourish and fun of a coffee and hot cocoa bar.

There’s a delicious decadence to offering flavored liqueurs and creamers and frothy whipped cream, and a few bite-sized treats such as chocolate-covered espresso beans and nuts, mini cookies, cupcakes or muffins, fresh biscotti, pie or a savory tidbit.

Set up at the dining room buffet or table, a desk, side table or kitchen countertop.

You’ll need:

— Coffeemaker and/or espresso machine.

— Regular and decaf coffee, espresso .

— Flavored liqueurs, such as Irish Cream, creme de menthe, buttered rum, chocolate, amaretto, etc.

— Flavored creamers.

— Cream and sugar, including brown sugar cubes

— Mugs, cups/saucers and spoons. Mix and match for fun.

— Flavored or decorative stir sticks or spoons.

Guests will feel extra special when you make steaming mugs of hot chocolate from scratch! You can also make your own seasonal coffee creamers. Make the sweetened base first, then add seasonings to make your own holiday flavors.

Rich & Creamy Hot Chocolate

Heartwarming, creamy and oh-so-delicious.

Makes 8 servings

1 cup real semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/8 teaspoon salt

5 1/2 cups milk

2 cups (1 pint) half & half

2 teaspoons vanilla

Aerosol whipped light cream, if desired

Melt chocolate chips, stirring constantly, in 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in sugar, water and salt.

Increase heat to medium. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add milk and half & half; cook until heated through. (DO NOT BOIL.) Add vanilla.

Remove from heat; whisk until frothy. Pour into mugs. Serve with whipped cream.

If desired, sprinkle with your choice of toppings: grated chocolate, grated orange zest, ground cinnamon, or ground nutmeg.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

This hot chocolate base can be made ahead and stored in freezer until ready to use.

Makes 5 servings

Hot Chocolate Base:

1 cup real semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

For each serving

5 cups milk

Aerosol whipped cream

Ground cinnamon, if desired

Combine all hot chocolate base ingredients in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours).

Drop about 1/4 cupfuls hot chocolate base onto squares of plastic food wrap. Using plastic wrap, shape mixture into 2-inch balls. Wrap securely in plastic food wrap; place into resealable plastic freezer bag. Store in freezer.

To make each serving, combine 1 unwrapped hot chocolate ball and 1 cup milk in large mug. Microwave 2-2 1/2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until smooth and hot. Top with whipped cream and ground cinnamon, if desired.

Flavored Coffee Creamer Base

Makes 1 container

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

14 ounces whole milk

Whisk together both ingredients until combined. Store in refrigerator.

Peppermint mocha coffee creamer: Stir together 1 batch coffee creamer base and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder in saucepan. Heat on low; stir to dissolve cocoa powder. Add peppermint extract; stir. Store in container in the refrigerator.

Vanilla bean coffee creamer: Stir together 1 batch coffee creamer base and 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or substitute 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Store in container in refrigerator.

Chocolate coffee creamer: Stir together 1 batch coffee creamer base and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder in saucepan. Simmer on low and stir until cocoa powder is dissolved. Store in container in refrigerator.

Hazelnut coffee creamer: Stir together 1 batch coffee creamer base and 1 to 2 teaspoons hazelnut extract. Store in refrigerator.

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