Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hot Chocolate Station!

Hot Chocolate Bar 

Hot! Hot!  Hot Chocolate!  If you are like our family, the words to the famous song in "The Polar Express" movie make you want to curl up by the fire with a hot cup of creamy cocoa.  Add some Christmas music, a soft blanket and a good book for a perfect evening.  A fun way to involve the whole family is to create a small "hot chocolate station" where everyone can mix, stir and sprinkle their way to a perfect cup!  I included chocolate covered peppermint sticks, marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, cinnamon and sprinkles.  We leave the station on our drink bar all season, inviting family and friends to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or even coffee.  If you are having a party include mugs, creamers and whip cream for a full hot beverage bar.

A Mug of Marshmallows

I love this time of year.  I love it because of the beautiful sounds of Christmas carols, the sweet taste of fudge and peppermint bark, the smell of the freshly cut Christmas tree and the sight of a crackling fire.  Everything about the season engages the senses and beckons family togetherness. But the main reason I love Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation!

The INCARNATION!  What an amazingly powerful word.  The Incarnation...God of the universe who humbled himself and became flesh.  The God Man, Jesus Christ,  born a baby in a lowly manager on the most holiest of nights over 2000 years ago.  Since childhood, I have enjoyed sitting out under the stars on a cold night and imagining what those shepherds must have felt as a heavenly host of angels appeared in the sky.  Of all the nights in human history, I am drawn to this night.  If I could travel back in time, I would choose this moment, when the angels sang praises in the night sky announcing the Prince of Peace to a group of unknown and unimportant shepherds.  Why the shepherds?

When the business of this season weighs on me, all the shopping, cooking, wrapping, and extra activities, I am reminded of that still, quiet night.  Maybe God chose those shepherds, tending their sheep, because of their calm, quiet spirits sitting in the stillness of the night.  This is why I like Christmas Eve the best.  On Christmas Eve everything in the world winds slowly down...the shopping is done, the presents wrapped, the food cooked, and stillness comes over the whole world.  This Christmas, I encourage you to find a moment to step outside and gaze at the stars.  Maybe you will hear the songs of heavenly hosts ringing in your ears!

Hot Chocolate
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 1/2 cups hot milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/8 tsp salt

In a large saucepan. combine the sweetened, condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt.  Mix well.  Over medium heat, slowly stir in the milk.  Heat through, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm!

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