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  1. Hot Chocolate Spoon - Cocoa & Heart

    Hot chocolate is just the perfect warm and satisfying drink to enjoy over those long winter months.

    It can also be enjoyed practically any time – whether for breakfast, as a mid-morning or lunchtime drink – or later in the day, for tea or just before you go to bed.

    And the basic recipe can be spiced up by adding a hint of nutmeg, ground pepper or cinnamon.

    One great way to make Hot Chocolate that little big extra special is by making it with Nutella or any other hazelnut spread.

    Ah Nutella! If you’ve never come across this gift of chocolate goodness, then indulge me (literally) with a few words by way of explanation. For many chocoholics, Nutella is the best thing since sliced bread. Actually, Nutella is great on sliced bread but that’s another recipe!

    Made by the Italian company, Ferrero, and first sold in the mid 1960’s, Nutella’s main ingredients are sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa solids and skimmed milk. For many fans, it is chocolate spread heaven and chocolate not so much spread and thickly added to just about anything. You could say that a little chocolate goes a long way, as the actual chocolate content is not that high, but the flavour has been satisfying global taste buds for generations now.

    But back to how to make hot chocolate with Nutella. As it’s simply delicious let’s go with a simple recipe for now.

    Nutella Hot Chocolate Recipe

    A version with cocoa powder

    Ingredients

    4 cups low fat/skim milk (or any plant based milk - almond or coconut milk goes well with chocolate)

    2 tablespoons Nutella

    2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

    2 tablespoons sugar

    Fancy Toppings:

    Marshmallows

    Crushed hazelnuts

    Cinnamon

    Chocolate chips

    Extra Nutella!

     

    Method

    Heat milk in a regular saucepan on medium-high heat until beginning to warm and steam. You can also warm up your milk in a microwave. Add the Nutella spread, cocoa powder and sugar, and whisk until the mix is fully dissolved and all comes together

    Then, just bring to a gentle simmer while stirring, and take off heat.

    Once nice and creamy, pour into a mug, maybe add mini marshmallows and some of your favourite spices and sit back and simply enjoy.

    There. Couldn’t be simpler could it?

    Serves 4 with around 160 calories.

    If you are a complete Nutella fan, and want to dispense with the cocoa powder entirely, and are satisfied by the cocoa solids in the Nutella alone, then try this variation.

    Nutella Hot Chocolate Recipe for One

    A version without cocoa powder

    1 cup of whole milk (or milk of your choice)

    3 tablespoons of Nutella (or to taste)

    Method

    Mix together the milk and Nutella with a whisk in a saucepan over medium heat. The trick is to keep on mixing until the liquid is frothy and the Nutella has melted. If you are careful you can also use a microwave to make this drink. I usually heat up the milk first and then stir the hazelnut spread in until dissolved. If the drink cools down too much, just re-heat it in a microwave again. If you find your hot chocolate little bit too bland and sweet, try adding a tiny pinch of salt in (literary just a few grains). It makes all the difference, as it brings all he flavours together.

    So, what are you waiting for? Why not start right now by making your next hot chocolate a Nutella one!

    I'm off to heat up some milk...so until next time!

    Nicknm author

  2. Charles Bridge - Prague at night

    - THE CHOCOLATE EDIT -

    So, we’re halfway through January 2019 and it’s time for the first blog of the year. Perhaps I should start with just finishing off last year and the last party we did on December 21. It was eventful since we very nearly didn’t make it at all – not only that but we were on the point of emailing our apologies – from the airport of another country.

    We were booked to hold a rolling series of children’s chocolate lollipop classes by Lloyds Bank at their Chatham HQ. It was part of bring your children to work event and other entertainment was also laid on to create a festive party atmosphere.

    The previous day we were also booked – to arrive on a scheduled flight back to Gatwick from Prague where we’d been visiting Magdalena’s relatives for a few days. But the only the only thing flying around Gatwick that day were drones! Was it the same drone spotted by lots of people or different drones seen by the same people? Looking back on it now it all seems a bit of a mystery. In fact, it would be simpler to just put the sightings down to a passing UFO.

    So we sat at Prague airport, patiently or otherwise, googling breaking news for information since none was forthcoming from the flight departure desk. We’d been scheduled to arrive at Gatwick at @3pm and the party was the following morning at 10.00am. That leaves plenty of time for any delays or so we thought. We’d even done some prep before we left to save time. No problem just have another coffee, sit tight and wait for the all clear. Only nothing was clear about the situation at Gatwick. It couldn’t have been less clear had a huge fog descended on the runway.

    With no flights coming in or out of Gatwick on police advice, we emailed our contact at Lloyds bank and explained the situation. When was the latest we could arrive, we asked? We might be late – we might not get there at all! Suddenly, the departure board was announcing Gatwick flights diverted to Stansted. People who hadn’t moved for hours; stumbled into action and scrambled to get into the queue for the new gate number. They needn’t have bothered. Nothing happened for a while. Eventually we all boarded and the Italian crew promptly asked for a Czech volunteer to explain the situation to Czech only speakers as they’d been diverted to service the flight themselves. Great! So we phoned Lloyds to say – all on again. See you tomorrow.

    We were promised that Easy Jet were aware of the situation and a rep would meet us on landing to advise on coaches going back to Gatwick where we, and most other passengers, had cars booked in the car park. We landed at Stanstead, about 5 hours late. No rep, so we made our way to the Easy Jet booking office only to be told that a coach would not arrive for another 2.5 hours! When the private coach did arrive, the driver refused to leave until the coach was full – as it was the only one booked and said she was instructed to wait for more incoming flights and passengers. Meanwhile, at the airport, passengers wandered around not knowing any transport had been laid on.

    People came and went from the coach – some making their own arrangements. Exorbitant taxi fares to Gatwick were quoted. Having waited 2.5 hours for the coach – it took another 2.5 hours for another coach alongside to finally leave. The driver returning home via Gatwick at the end of his 14 hour shift. All in all, we spent longer at Stansted waiting to get back to Gatwick than we did in Prague waiting to leave for Gatwick. We finally got home, shattered, after 3am – about 13 hours later than planned. Of course, having optimistically, emailed Lloyds to say, panic over, we were now landing via Stansted; we could then hardly cancel just because it took another six hours to get home, via Gatwick.

    So we slept for a few hours, got up early and finished the prep. Fortunately, Lloyds had kindly put back our starting time by an hour or so. The show must go on; it was Christmas time and if Santa Claus could make it all the way from Lapland – so could we from Prague, where it had been snowing as we arrived at the airport.

    The excited faces of the children (and some of the adults, too!) took away most of the tiredness. Milk and white chocolate lollipops were made and elaborately decorated. The parents went away happy (and most of the children!). And the funny thing? Trying not to watch Sky News on the big screen tv next to me, which was still leading on the drones at Gatwick and the shut down on the airport.

    So, until the next chocolate adventure...

    Nick

    nm author