Hot Cocoa with Whipped Cream Hearts
I heard a rumor last year. Not the ugly sort of rumor that results from unseemly gossip, but the good kind that you hope is true. I can’t remember where I read it or who said it, but I tucked it in the back of my mind until just last week when I put it to the test.
Here’s what I heard: whipped cream, when spread thin, freezes up like a dream and can be cut into charming shapes using garden-variety cookie cutters.
And guess what? It does work like a dream. A creamy, chocolatey dream when whipped cream hearts are set over steaming cups of hot cocoa and served to your beloveds come next week on Valentine’s Day.
Making your own cocoa is dreamy too, and easy, and better than what comes in those little packets that my kids, and I’m guessing yours too, are always trying to slip into the shopping cart. I almost bought a box a few weeks ago, a weak moment in the supermarket with persistent children at my side. But I stopped in my tracks once I read what’s in there: partially hydrogenated oil, corn syrup, artificial colors, and a small handful of other unsavory items I don’t know how to spell or pronounce.
So I’ll keep making my own. And hope you do too. It’s so good. And with a pretty whipped cream heart on top? The cutest cup of Valentine’s Day cocoa ever.
Perfect Cocoa with Whipped Cream Hearts
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (optional)
For the whipped cream hearts
Line a 9X11-inch baking pan with parchment paper so the paper drapes over two sides.
Pour the cream into a large bowl and use an electric mixer to whip the cream just until it forms stiff peaks, adding 1 tablespoon of the sugar when you are about halfway there.
Spoon the whipped cream into the prepared pan and spread it evenly until it is 1/2-inch thick. It won't cover the entire surface of the pan. Put the whipped cream into the freezer until frozen, at least an hour.
Once frozen, remove the pan from the freezer. Hold on to two sides of the parchment to lift the cream out of the pan and set it on your work surface. Press a heart-shaped cookie cutter into the cream, and use your finger to gently and slowly press it out of the cookie cutter. Cut out as many hearts as will fit. Work quickly, because the cream melts! Store the hearts in a single layer in a covered container in the freezer until ready to use. If any of the hearts crack along the way, piece them back together and refreeze.
For the cocoa
Put the milk, cocoa powder, and remaining sugar in a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Whisk vigorously to incorporate the cocoa powder and sugar into the milk. Once the cocoa powder is mixed in, stir occasionally until the cocoa is warmed to your liking, being sure that the sugar dissolves. Add the vanilla and stir again.
Pour into a mug, sprinkle the optional chopped chocolate over the cocoa, and top with a whipped cream heart.