Sister Mary Fluffy is a character from The Panda Chronicles created by Anne Belov. She is a Panda Nun who some may say has developed a few bad habits. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with a nun who likes to live a spirited life.
When Sister Mary Fluffy arrives at the Panda House in DC, she is welcomed with a mug of hot cocoa which the Panda House serves with “marshymellows” (marshmallows). Can we really blame her for wanting to “freshen” her cocoa with something more uplifting? After all, she has travelled a long way to get there.
When I decided to create a spiked cocoa for Sister Mary Fluffy, I thought about how she would go about making one. Would Sister Mary Fluffy need a recipe? I don’t think so! I think the unconventional Panda Nun would simply make something with what is it at hand – or in her case – at paw. Here is Sister Mary Fluffy in her felted form, obviously full of good spirits!
Sister Mary Fluffy’s Spiked Cocoa with Extra Spiked Marshmallows
To make the spiked marshmallows, pour some sugar in a small bowl and set aside (I used Demerara sugar). Skewer large marshmallows onto cocktail sticks (I used vanilla and raspberry). Half fill a shot glass with your chosen spirit or spirits (I used whiskey for the vanilla and red vermouth for the raspberry marshmallows). Dunk in a marshmallow, making sure it is covered in alcohol. Allow to sit for a few minutes (don’t leave it too long as it may dissolve). Remove marshmallow, gently shaking off any excess alcohol into the glass. Roll in sugar. Place upright in a glass. Repeat with remaining marshmallows. Set aside while you make the hot cocoa.
To make the hot cocoa, heat your favourite milk in a saucepan or microwave (I use full cream milk). Whisk in your favourite cocoa powder (I use dark cocoa powder). Add sweetener if desired, remembering that the marshmallows will add sweetness (I leave mine unsweetened). Add a good splash of your favourite spirit or spirits (I used whisky for both types of marshmallows). Top with as many marshmallows as you like.
As I wind down my reminiscing, I can’t help but think of the warm and nurturing hot chocolates we ended our evenings with at Jamala Wildlife Lodge. To symbolise my slow journey back through my past, I thought a slow cooker hot chocolate would be great. Don’t worry if you can’t drink it all in one go. Allow any leftovers to cool, then refrigerate until cold. It makes a great chocolate mousse!
Slow Cooked Hot Chocolate
300ml double cream
2 cups of milk
200g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
50g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, give the chocolate a good whisk making sure you scrape any chocolate from the bottom and sides into the mixture. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.
Turn off the slow cooker and very carefully blend the hot chocolate with a stick blender.
Serve piping hot.
It’s Friday the 13th again and for some the day is seen as unlucky, for others it means nothing, and for people like me it’s a time to dip into mythology and try out a few recipes!
13 is sometimes considered the Devil’s number, but in a tarot deck the Devil card is actually 15. It is the Death card that is number 13. Ancient Egyptians believed there were 12 stages of life and the 13th stage was death and transformation in the afterlife. For them, 13 was a lucky number. The number 12 is often associated with completion, so it makes sense that the number 13 can symbolise death and rebirth into a new cycle. This is part of the Death card’s meaning – transformation and renewal.
The Dracula Tarot
One of the key symbols in the Death card is the white rose. White roses epitomise purity, humility, reverence and innocence. They symbolise new beginnings and are therefore popular at both weddings and funerals.
For this Friday the 13th, I thought I would play around with the rose from the tarot Death card and the dessert called Death by Chocolate. There are so many ways this could have gone, but I really felt like a nurturing milk drink. I concocted two Death by Chocolate Delights – because I really couldn’t choose between them 🙂
Rose Water Iced Chocolate
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rose water (or to taste)
1 scoop chocolate ice cream
Place the milk and rose water in a glass and stir until combined. Add the chocolate ice cream.
Chocolate and Rose Water Milkshake
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rose water (or to taste)
3 scoops chocolate ice cream
Add the milk, rose water and ice cream to a blender or milkshake maker. Blend until smooth.
In my exploration of the five flavours through drinks, I’ve saved bitter for last. Not just because it is my favourite emotion – I mean flavour! – but because it was the most difficult. Like sweet, bitter has so many of my favourite flavours such as beer, wine, tea and coffee. How could I narrow down a drink with so many offerings? With great difficulty.
After contemplating a citrus sangria, a root beer float with real beer and numerous tea infusions I finally settled on a tried and true bitter combination – mocha. Chocolate and coffee are great companions and both can be bitter. I chose to celebrate their union in stages. A marriage of fresh brewed coffee blended with melted chocolate is topped with a dollop of cream infused with instant coffee and sprinkled with cocoa nibs. The result – a luscious, messy indulgence 🙂
A bitter-sweet symphony of coffee and chocolate.
1/2 cup double cream
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 cup freshly made coffee
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
cocoa nibs for serving (optional)
Whisk the cream and coffee together by hand until thick.
Place the fresh coffee and chopped chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly for 5 minutes or until the chocolate has melted and combined with the coffee.
Divide evenly between two heat-proof glasses or mugs.
Top with coffee whipped cream.
Sprinkle with cocoa nibs if desired.
Note: The cream can sometimes separate when dropped into the hot mocha. You can allow the mocha to cool slightly before dolloping the cream or you can enjoy it as a buttery, creamy mocha.