For my daughter Madeline’s second birthday, which is in late July, I baked our family’s favorite strawberry shortcake, replete with mounds of fresh berries and clouds of homemade vanilla whipped cream sandwiched between layers of a freshly baked cake. After setting it on the outdoor table and running back to the kitchen for matches to light the candles, I returned in time to see the birthday girl pouring a tumbler of orange juice over my beautiful masterpiece! It happened so fast that all her aunts, uncles, and older siblings were left standing there, stunned, frozen in place, and unable to react.
Fortunately, I’d planned another confection to accompany the cake: frozen hot chocolate, inspired by the world-famous Serendipity, on New York City’s Upper Eastside. Owners of the café kept the ingredients and recipe secret for years, so this standout dessert has lots of variations. Serve the version here in a large dessert dish, a tall fluted glass, a Mason jar, or a large mug; add a thick straw and you’re good to go. Little ones will feel all grown up making this treat that makes adults feel like children!
Easy Frozen Hot Chocolate
What You’ll Need
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 1 cup milk (2% works well)
- 1 package instant hot chocolate mix
- 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
- Whipped cream
- Chocolate sprinkles or cookie dough crumbles
What to Do
- Have your child measure and pour into an electric blender (one at a time): the ice cubes, milk, packaged hot chocolate mix, and chocolate syrup. Show her how to carefully replace the lid and make sure it’s tight.Teachable Moment: Where does cocoa powder come from?Cocoa powder comes from cocoa beans that grow in pods on the cacao tree. The beans are fermented, dried, roasted, and cracked; the nibs are ground to extract about 75 percent of the cocoa butter, leaving a dark brown paste called chocolate liquor. After drying again, the mass is ground into powder (unsweetened cocoa). Dutch cocoa is treated with an alkali to neutralize the cocoa's natural acidity.
- Let her press the high speed button and whirl the ingredients for about 30 seconds. (You can pour the frothy confection into a glass or a mug.)Teachable Moment: Why does cocoa powder taste so bitter?The bitter taste of cocoa powder comes from chemicals still in the cocoa from the seed of the cacao tree, which is the source of all cocoa and chocolate. Like other plants, the cacao plant, Theobroma cacao, has various ways of defending itself from insects and other animals that try to eat its seeds before they can sprout and grow into new trees. In addition to growing inside a tough pod, the seeds contain bitter-tasting chemicals, such as the alkaloids theobromine and caffeine, and phenolic compounds such as catechin and epicatechin.
- Encourage your child to garnish the end result with whipped cream, and add chocolate sprinkles or cookie dough crumbles on top! Serve immediately with a “bendie” straw and enjoy!