Will it snow on Christmas for the first time in my memory? I had never seen snow falling outside the window while my Christmas tree lights were on until last Saturday. So I already feel like I've seen everything.
Whichever way it goes - snow, sleet or rain - the one thing we know for sure is that it will be very cold. Which means you could use a couple of things to keep you warm. Before I leave for my Christmas vacation, I'll leave you with two ideas:
The first is Nutella Hot Chocolate. It's been popping up all over the Internet this season. And it's one of those ideas that's so smart, all I can think is, "what a great idea!" I've tested enough hot chocolate recipes to be able to say with confidence that the very best hot chocolate is made with a few squares of good-quality chocolate melted in warm milk. As a Nutella fan, I think this goes one better. Just put 3 tablespoons or so of Nutella in a small saucepan, add a couple of cups of milk, and stir it over medium-low heat.
The second is one of my favorite recipes. I got this originally from my friend Jane Snow, who got it, as I recall, from a bartender at a ski resort. I make a batch of the base every winter and use it as I need it on cold winter nights. I usually don't make it until January. But this winter is defying all predictions. (If you like simple, great ideas for food, you should subscribe to Jane's free food newsletter. It comes in every week and it always has something I end up wanting to cook. OK, end of pitch.)
Put out a hot cup of either one for Santa. The Dude is going to need to thaw out his fingers if he's going to pull anything out of his sack for you. Enjoy either, or both, stay warm, and I'll see you in 2011.
Hot Buttered Rum
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar, light or dark
1/4 cup molasses or dark corn syrup
Combine the butter, brown sugar and molasses or dark rum in a small bowl and mash with the back of a spoon or fork to combine it into a paste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Place 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of the mix in a mug (the amount depends on the size of the mug and how sweet you like it). Add 1 ounce rum. (I like dark, but any rum will do.) Fill the mug with boiling water, stirring until the butter mix is melted. Top with whipped cream if you insist.