Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Hot chocolate warms you up"

If you follow me on Twitter or heard me mention it in a past video, you already know about Hayden's favorite phrase at the moment: "Hot chocolate warms you up. Try some?"

She's been saying this all the time lately (I think she learned it from the "Backyardigans"), while serving up pretend hot chocolate in her play mugs. You can believe her excitement when I said we could make our own "warm chocolate" to share in some fancy (and breakable) cups and saucers my grandmother passed on to me (she used to serve hot "cocoa," as she called it in them to us grandchildren when we were little; thanks Granny!).

We have a very simple recipe that is actually quite similar to the one I saw on Blythe Raw Live yesterday (it's a web show I watch every Friday afternoon. Love it!). Blythe made a luxurious sipping chocolate powder to give away as gifts. It had a cashew and cocoa powder base, like ours, but she made hers extra special with various other high quality ingredients.

If you watch our video, you'll see us make our quick and easy version, and then jazz it up with some raw white chocolate mint stirrers I made this morning.

All I did was gently melt some grated raw cocoa butter (about 1/4 cup) in a warm ramekin (stirring it, as it melted). Once it was melted enough, I stirred in a drizzle of agave (although you could use another liquid sweetener) and a drop of mint extract).

Then, I set the ramekin on an ice pack to speed up the cooling process, so it would thicken up a bit. Once it resembled a frosting-like consistency, I spread a thin layer on a piece of parchment in a rectangular shape. Before it completely hardened, I used a knife to mark/separate the white chocolate into strips (or for today's purpose, "stirrers"), and placed the stirrers into the freezer until ready to use.

When placed in our "warm chocolate" beverages, our rustic-looking stirrers slowly melted, leaving behind a richness and minty flavor. Yum!

But, enough about that. We also just received our December Conscience Box in the mail. I was so excited about it that I videotaped us opening it, as soon as it arrived. I didn't even take the time to remove my coat (it is vegan, BTW, and actually warm. Amazing!).

We ordered a Conscience Box after seeing Eco-Vegan Gal Whitney's video reaction to the one she got in November. She gave her thoughts and recommendations for improving future boxes, so I was wondering if any of her comments would be reflected in the December mailing.

I lucked out, finding a special discounted price on mine (and only $3.95 shipping) via Loving Eco (a site I love for amazing deals on eco-friendly products with part of the proceeds going to good causes. You never know what will be on the site, as product offerings change from week to week). I tweeted about it at the time, and it sold out.

Here's our video showing what was in our box this month. I was tempted to type everything out, but I don't want to spoil the surprise for anyone who hasn't received theirs yet (just don't look at the photo below, which is missing the air freshener that Hayden kept running off with; you can see her foot in the background of the pic of just the air freshener).

My opinion on the box was that it's a lot of fun to discover new products and samples this way, especially when you don't make it out to events where they are giving these things away. I also like the surprise part of it, although I probably wouldn't pay the full price for this mystery box every month.

Instead, I signed up for Eco-Emi, which tends to contain products that are more up my alley and for only $15 a month (shipping is free). My first Eco-Emi box should arrive next month. I can't wait to tell you all about it when it does.

Did anyone else order a Conscience Box? How about Eco-Emi? Let me know your thoughts.


Oh, in case you didn't notice it in the background of the Conscience Box video, Hayden wanted to show you her Charlie Brown tree ... and the chocolate that's still on her face :-)