Hot Chocolate Spices up Wintry Day

Another blustery wintery day in southwestern Ontario!

A perfect afternoon to stay indoors, curled up with a book and a steaming mug of spiced hot chocolate. To complement the beverage choice, and in honour of this sweet month of February, I picked out JoAnna Carl’s chocoholic mystery, The Chocolate Cat Caper, from my library of culinary mysteries.

Spiced Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Rim Trim

Before filling my mug with hot chocolate, I dipped the rim in a mixture of cocoa powder, sugar and ground cinnamon. Hardly essential, but it made for a pretty presentation – and an extra bit of spice and sweetness with every sip!

Spiced Hot Chocolate
(Makes about 4 cups/1 L)

3 oz (90 g) semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons (45 mL) water
2 teaspoons (10 mL) sugar
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground allspice or nutmeg
Pinch salt
4 cups (1 L) milk

In a medium saucepan, combine chocolate, water, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Place saucepan over low heat and stir until chocolate is melted and ingredients are blended together. Remove from heat. Add milk. Return to stove. Over medium heat, stir frequently until milk is not, but not boiling. Remove from heat. Whisk until frothy or use a frother to froth. Pour into mugs and serve.

Optional: To decorate mug rims, combine about 2 tablespoons each (about 30 mL) sugar and cocoa powder with about 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon; stir to blend. Pour mixture into a plate; give plate a shake to spread mixture out evenly, about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick. Dip rims of mugs in water, then into the cocoa powder/sugar mixture. Fill mugs with hot chocolate and serve.

From Dipping to Sipping

Over the Christmas holidays, Murray and I enjoyed a three course fondue meal with his sister Lorna at The Melting Pot Restaurant in Winnipeg, Manitoba. All that dipping inspired us to buy a new tea pot.

What? You don’t see the connection between fondue forks and tea pots? Well, let me explain. But I’ll start at the beginning and describe our meal in case you get a chance to visit this fondue restaurant.

We started with a salad (a Sunshine salad for me – mixed greens, feta cheese, red onion, olives and pecans, drizzled with a sun-dried tomato dressing). Salads were followed by a classic cheese fondue made with Gruyere and Swiss cheeses, wine, kirsch, and a medley of spices that included a wonderful punch of nutmeg.

We continued our dipping with a “surf and turf” bouillon fondue of scallops, prawns, chicken, beef and pork with three sauces (seafood sauce, a dill sauce, and a chili sauce, if memory serves). This fondue was accompanied by rice and Thai-style vegetables.

A chocolate fondue with fruit dippers finished the meal on a very satisfying note.


Along with the dessert fondue, Murray ordered tea. It was served in a see-through tea pot that housed an infuser for the tea leaves. The word “BrewT” was stamped on the tea pot.

The pot was a little taller and larger than the one shown on the left.

We were intrigued by the pot with its pronged feet. Although we had all seen clear tea pots before, this one appeared to have no pouring spout.

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Here’s how the pot works.

Tea leaves and boiling water are placed in the pot (1 teaspoon (5 mL) tea leaves and 1 cup (250 mL) water per cup of tea). The tea is allowed to steep for a few minutes.

After the leaves have steeped, the pot is set on top of the cup. This pushes the release valve open which allows the tea to pour into the cup.

The three of us were impressed by the pot’s efficiency, probably because most restaurant tea pots pour so badly you usually have tea everywhere but in your cup.

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Of course the trick with this pot was knowing when to lift it off the cup so it would stop “pouring”, otherwise the tea could overflow the cup.

But judging when the cup was nearly full proved to be not that difficult. You just had to lift the pot for a look, and to immediately stop dispensing tea.

Once we were back home, Murray was on a hunt to find a similar tea pot.

An online search revealed that BrewT was available through Cornelia Bean Ltd. in Winnipeg for $24.99.

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We decided to check a local tea shop to see whether they sold anything similar. Sure enough, Distinctly Tea in Waterloo (Ontario) carries three different styles and sizes of this type of tea pot. Each comes with a round coaster on which the pot sits to catch any drips.

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