There's a clean swath of white coating the hillsides, leaving little hats on the fenceposts, revealing the to's and fro's of man and animal alike. I can see it all from my kitchen window, and it makes me long for a warm beverage served in a hefty stoneware mug, topped with a dollop of rich, homemade whipped cream. Often, I'll fill the copper-bottomed soup pot with a batch of steaming cocoa, but, as of late, I've had a hankering for a Hot Mocha Mudslide, that perfectly sweet sipping stuff that delivers just a bit of a gut-warming kick. To offer this to the littles in the household, trade the Baileys and Kahlua for 1/4 cup instant espresso. In our household, where we have both grown-ups and younguns, we make it without the espresso and add the Baileys and Kahlua to each cup. That's how I've offered it here, with notes on how to do it differently, if you prefer. I always double it to give ample amounts of chocolatey goodness to each member of our family. This fills about 10 regular coffee mugs.
Hot Mocha Mudslide
Adapted from 2010 Christmas with Southern Living
1 cup unsweetened, dutch-process cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 cups half-and-half
6 cups milk
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
Baileys Irish Creme
Whisk the cocoa, sugar and half-and-half in a big saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until sugar dissolves, but don't bring to a boil. Add the milk, increase heat to medium-high and whisk constantly, about 5 minutes (but don't boil). Whisk in the vanilla and pour into mugs. Add 1.5 tablespoons of Baileys Irish Creme and 1 tablespoon Kahlua to each (adult!) mug. If you're making the whole batch for adults, add 1/2 cup Baileys and 1/4 cup Kahlua to the whole batch. For a hot mocha without alcohol, omit the Baileys and Kahlua and add 1/4 cup instant espresso.
Top the mugs with homemade whipped cream and a drizzling of either Kahlua or chocolate syrup.