Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hot Cocoa!!!

Every year, I try to put a good amount of thought into the Christmas gifts that I give to our Niece and Nephews who live out in California.  I never get to see them open the gifts and I never get to see or hear their response to what I have picked out for them.  I do usually get a thank-you letter for the gifts within a month after Christmas, but it is always very anti-climactic.  This year, instead of going out and buying them new outfits, or books, or games, I decided to make a hot cocoa set for the whole family.  I was really excited to do this because I discovered a new way to decorate white ceramic mugs and not have the writing wipe off.  I was also really nervous because I was going to try to ship a gift basket containing ceramic mugs across the country.  As far as I know, only 1 mug broke, so I will have to send out a replacement for Emma, but other than that, everything else survived.

So how did I make said gift basket?  Well, it's a multi-step process...But here goes!

1.  The mugs.  I bought basic white porcelain mugs and a massive set of Sharpie Markers and set to work.  I emailed my brother-in-law to find out the kid's favorite colors, and while I designed the mugs the same, I made each of them with their respective favorite colors.  Once they were fully decorated, I put them on a cookie sheet (yes, really), and baked them for 30 minutes at 350*.  When they were all done, I let them sit on the counter to cool.  The baking process allows you to decorate them mug, but also allows you to wash the mugs without wiping the design off.  It's quite exciting!

2.  Next, I decided that if I was going to be sending mugs and hot cocoa, then I also needed to send marshmallows.  I bought a bag of small marshmallows, and these fun red and green stars and trees, but I also found a bag of "stacker-mallows" - which are marketed to be for S'Mores, but make cutting shapes out of marshmallows an easy task!  So to work I went cutting gingerbread men, snowmen, candy canes, snowflakes, and ornaments out of the marshmallows!!



3.  Next, I put a variety of the different kinds of marshmallows into bags for each of the mugs!

4.  So we're talking hot cocoa mix here....What about the hot cocoa??  Well, I made my own mixture!  (Adapted from Alton Brown's recipe)

1.5 cup of unsweetened cocoa
2 cups confectioners sugar
2.5 cups non-dairy powdered creamer or powdered low-fat milk
2 tsps corn starch
1 tsp salt
Milk Chocolate Chips
White Chocolate chips

5.  Gift box it up!!  I did a lot of searching for a basket that I liked, and settled on a pretty box that I found at Christmas Tree Shop.  I put stuffing in the bottom, and then arranged the mugs, hot cocoa mix, and then lots of candy into the box!!

6.  And since I made the hot cocoa mix, I decided I should try some for myself!!!  2-3 Tbsp of hot cocoa mix with 8-10oz of water, and you've got yourself a delicious cup of hot cocoa!!

I repeated this process for my sister and brother-in-law, but instead of writing their names on the mugs, I wrote "MR" and "MRS" and I also did a mug for my dad which said, "Wake up and smell the COFFEE"

All in all, I had so much fun making this gift.  I hope that the receivers enjoy the gift as much as I enjoyed making it!  It certainly had a delicious end-result!

Get Creative, and ENJOY!!

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