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When my kids were little we made hot cocoa all the time. Now that they are grown-ups, and don’t come inside from playing in the snow or after a chilly, rainy softball practice, I don’t have many reasons to make hot cocoa. BUT, this past weekend was different because both of my daughters were visiting us at our cottage in Michigan so we could attend Art Prize in Grand Rapids. If you are local to Michigan, or within a few hours of Grand Rapids, you should definitely make plans to visit Art Prize one year! It is amazing, and Grand Rapids is a fantastic city loaded with culture, craft beer and great restaurants- everything we love. You can learn more about Art Prize here, but in a nutshell “ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition which takes place for 19 days every other fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan.” The art and artists are amazing and over $500,000 in prize money is awarded to winners across multiple categories. It’s a great time and you can definitely make a weekend of it with all there is to do in Grand Rapids in addition to Art Prize.
Here are a few photos of the art pieces we saw:
I have a *tiny* thing for dragonflies…ok, I have a big thing for dragonflies- they are good luck, after all! I am very drawn to them and always smile a little when I spot one.
This Phoenix was one of the 2018 winners, which I did not realize until writing this post! It was really neat- I bet hundreds of hours went into its creation.
This photo hardly does it justice- the workmanship was really awesome. So many pieces of discarded treasures turned into one phenomenal piece. Really, if you can make it to Art Prize it’s well worth the trip! This was our second year visiting. I had been wanting to go for years, but Fall was always such a busy time of year for us it never worked out. I am so glad we’ve made time to go twice now!
Hot Cocoa Talk
Ok- hot cocoa, right? Yesssss! So, since the girls were visiting for the weekend I knew I wanted to make some hot cocoa. The weather cooperated nicely on Sunday since it was cool, rainy and dreary- the perfect weather for a cup of yummy hot chocolate.
Delicious, right? Omgggggg…so good! I don’t know what came over me, but I totally reverted to “mom of little kids” mode and whipped up some cute-as-can-be pumpkin cookies to sit on the cocoa mugs. What’s better than a cup of hot cocoa AND a cookie? Not much! Ready for the recipe? Here you go!
You’d think I was doing an ad for Ghirardelli, but I am not- I just really like their toppings and think their chocolate is really good quality. Gotta have good quality chocolate for your hot cocoa!
Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa
32 ounces of milk – I used regular milk, but I think this would work well with soy or almond. Coconut may be a little too coconutty.
8 tsp. cocoa powder
6 ounces of good quality milk chocolate – chopped up so it melts faster.
4 tsp. cornstarch – to thicken the cocoa up jussssst a touch! <yum>
1 Tbsp. sea salt caramel topping
- Heat the milk on the stove or in your microwave until it is nice & hot, but not boiling.
- Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.
- Add the cocoa powder and cornstarch. Whisk until combined.
- Stir in caramel.
- Pour into mugs.
Top with fresh whipped cream. If you have never made whipped cream it is SO EASY and SO GOOD. You will never go back to the canned or frozen variety, I promise.
Whipped Cream Topping
1 C chilled heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Combine all ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk. Whisk. Whisk some more. You’ll know when it’s done because it looks like fluffy whipped cream! (Sooooo good!) It takes 2-3 minutes.
Top your hot cocoa with fresh whipped cream, drizzle with sea salt caramel topping and some sprinkles, if you’d like and snuggle up with your favorite person/puppy/book and blanket and enjoy!
Mmmmmm mmmmm yum! I don’t know why I don’t make hot chocolate more often. It is so good. And while kids love it, of course, it’s not only for kids. It’s a nice little treat on icky, dreary days and also on snow days. With hot cocoa like this you may not mind the snow!
For the cookies, I used the No Fail Sugar Cookie recipe over at Cake Central. It is the best sugar cookie recipe I’ve ever made and I have been using this recipe for years. It is perfect for cutout cookies and they do not spread while baking. You can’t go wrong with this recipe. It makes a ton of cookies (like I probably could have made over 100 of those little pumpkins from one batch) but I usually cut out a basic shape, like circles, with the extra dough, bake them and freeze them to decorate another time. The perfect icing for the perfect sugar cookie is Wilton’s Royal Icing recipe. Perfect every time- once you get the hang of it!
To make the pumpkin cookies that sit on the cocoa cup, I used a mini pumpkin cookie cutter and then before baking the cookies I used a wooden skewer to notch out the dough wide enough for the cookie to sit on the edge of the cup.
Looks Like Happy’s Favorite Hot Cocoa Making & Cookie Baking Supplies
- I love my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I upgraded from the smaller model to their 6-quart lift stand mixer a few years ago and absolutely love it! I use it for everything from baking to making mashed potatoes and shredding chicken. It is probably the most versatile countertop kitchen appliance I own! The other thing I love about Kitchen Aid mixers that totally does not matter, but it totally fun, is that they come in so many colors! Mine is red, but whatever color you love is probably available.
- Autumn cookie cutter collection – 6 piece set of mini-cookie cutters, including a pumpkin. (This set is perfect for cutting out pie crust into cute fall shapes for the edge of apple and pumpkin pies, too!)
- Ghirardelli Sea Salt Caramel Topping – yummy on ice cream, too!
- Wilton Meringue Powder – for the royal icing recipe.
- Wilton Fall Sprinkles
I am also LOVING these mulling spices this fall! I have had them simmering on my stovetop for days and our whole house smells amazing- like a warm cup of apple cider and pie. I have never had mulling spices before, but I am longing for coziness lately and this is one way to achieve it.
What is your favorite way to get cozy in the fall? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Ready for more Fall ideas? Be sure to check out our Fall board on Pinterest. It is loaded with ideas for everything fall from decor to recipes!
Be sure to take a look at these related posts that are all for Fall & Halloween!
15 Mom Approved Halloween Costumes for Teen Girls
10 Creative Halloween Gifts for Kids, Friends & Teachers!
15 Super Cute Halloween Costumes for Babies & Kids
10 Spooktacular Halloween Costume Ideas for Your Family
10 Fantastically Frightening Halloween Décor Ideas for Your Home
16 Gorgeous Fall Porches
10 Rustic Fall Signs to Make Your Home Cozy