It’s been a sweltering August week. Sounds like the perfect time for hot chocolate!
I second guessed my instinct when I picked up NOS4A2 by Joe Hill last week. It is the middle of summer, and this is a book entirely about a serial killer who takes children to a place called “Christmasland.” If anything, this is a Halloween/Christmas combo read, to be opened only during the months of October-December. Yet there I was, deciding that the summer is exactly the time I want to experience NOS4A2. Am I tripping?
But actually, the summer is a really good time for NOS4A2, because as it says in the book, there’s something extremely off-putting about Christmas music/food/decor when it’s out of season. Imagine going to the mall and hearing “Holly Jolly Christmas” in the middle of June. Creepy, right? So why not have the heat of August as the backdrop to NOS4A2? Besides, Christmasland is invasive, so I’m letting it invade my warm months.
Such a departure from normal requires a similar departure in terms of drink. I therefore paired NOS4A2 with a gingerbread hot chocolate, spiked with Maker’s Mark.
The gingerbread taste/smell evokes all sorts of scary moments in the book (no spoilers!), plus it seems like every time someone thinks about Christmas, they’re craving hot chocolate. I picked Maker’s Mark because it gives a little bite to it, a nice reminder that Christmas isn’t all sweet, plus it’s Vic McQueen’s drink of choice in the novel.
Is it wrong to choose a whisky brand because an alcoholic heroine like it? Does she like it because the bottle looks like blood is running down it, and the villain is, essentially, a vampire? Am I overthinking this? Probably. Here’s my recipe:
Bratty Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
2 cups milk
2 T granulated sugar
2 T brown sugar
1 T molasses
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t ground ginger
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t vanilla extract
As much Maker’s Mark as your little heart desires
Red sugar sprinkles
Warm milk in saucepan over low heat. Add the sugars; stir until dissolved. Add molasses; stir until combined. Add cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and ginger; stir until smooth. Add cocoa powder; stir until smooth. Pour in as much Maker’s Mark as you want (I added what I figured was about a shot, but in retrospect was probably about three. Oops) and add vanilla. Increase heat to medium, stirring constantly, until steam rises. Pour into a summery mug and add a boatload of whipped cream and red sugar, so it looks like a child decorated it. Grin evilly to self. Merry Christmas.