When I picture hot chocolate, I don’t picture drinks that are blue. A friend of mine gifted me this container of University of California Golden Bears Blue Hot Chocolate because I went to Berkeley and they thought I might enjoy the novelty of it. The box promises that the hot chocolate will to turn bright blue when you add hot water to it – and it exceeded my expectations on how blue it was going to be! I assumed that this would be regular hot chocolate (which is to say, that the drink would be brown) with blue coloring added to it. Instead, this is a blue drink with chocolate flavoring! I can’t say that it going to beat out homemade hot chocolate or gourmet mixes like Godiva’s in a chocolate taste test, but it is fun to make and makes for a warm, festive way to support your favorite blue college or pro sports team. Naturally, I drink a glass when Cal is playing, but I’ll just hide the container and call it Dodger blue hot chocolate when I’m watching a baseball game next season.
If you look carefully, you can find an official day for just about anything. For instance, January 25th was National Irish Coffee Day! Irish Coffee is a hot coffee drink, where freshly brewed coffee is spiked with enough Irish whiskey to give it a kick, then sweetened with sugar and topped with whipped cream. It is a classic and, although I might be a day late to the official party, any excuse for an Irish Coffee is a good one.
Irish coffee is a drink that I like to serve for dessert after a dinner party or even to make for myself on a cold evening when I could use a very cozy, warming drink. I don’t want to offend any purists, but I’ve been known to add a splash of Irish cream to mine, too, just to sweeten things up! I generally go by taste, so as you follow the recipe below, feel free to adjust the amounts to suit your own preferences.
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I like the seasonal Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate that Starbucks adds to their menu in the winter and it is something that I’ll definitely order if I feel like indulging in a non coffee beverage on a cold night. I had no idea, however, that Starbucks packaged hot cocoa mix in single serving packets (think Swiss Miss) until a friend handed me this box of Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa Mix.
The mix is made from natural ingredients – including Madagascar vanilla powder and ethically sourced cocoa powder – and the mix can boast that it is lower in calories and fat than the version that you can order in the store. The trade-off, of course, is that you don’t get the same indulgence factor as you do with the in-store version of this drink. This is a good hot chocolate mix that has salty overtones and actual pieces of caramel mixed in with the cocoa. The caramel melts into the hot milk (which you add yourself) and brings a richness that you don’t find in other hot chocolate mixes. It’s a definite plus that there are no artificial flavors and you get the real thing (including that caramel) for the overall flavor of this mix. I just might have to keep my eyes peeled for another box because I’m going through the eight included in this box surprisingly fast!
Every time I’m in the grocery store, or any other store for that matter, I hear people complaining about how many cards they have to carry around in their wallets and about how many rewards programs they have to join. The Starbucks card is a little different because you can charge it up and pay for your coffee with it (not just use it to get a normal price on an overpriced box of cookies at the market), but it is still one more thing that you need to carry around with you. But Starbucks is going mobile with their cards and if you have a smart phone, you can download an app to access your card digitally. The app will tell you your balance and, when you press the button to pay, a barcode will appear that the barista can scan. Your bill will be deducted from your balance and you won’t need to fish around in your purse or wallet for yet another card (because we all know that we keep our cellphones handier than anything else, for the most part).
I still like my Starbucks card (which is from 2001!) a lot, but I’ve used this type of system for airplane boarding passes and have to admit that it’s pretty convenient, so I just might end up downloading the app myself. It is currently available for iPhone and Blackberry, with an Anroid app coming soon.