In Hot Chocolate Caramel

The Christmas season is upon us, so a hot chocolate seems like a very appropriate beverage. Homemade hot chocolate is everyone's favorite, even us big kids. This is my spin on hot chocolate and has put smiles on many faces. Enjoy!

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George's Hot Chocolate Caramel

Makes 6 Servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1/3 cup pure cane granulated sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened good cocoa powder

1/3 cup water

8 caramel candies

6 cups milk (whole milk for best results)

mini marshmallows or whip cream

1 ounce brandy (optional)

In a large saucepan combine sugar, cocoa powder, and water. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add candies and stir until melted. Stir in milk. Heat through. Top with brandy. Pour into mug, top with mini marshmallows or whipped cream.

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Creamy Five Onion Soup

This easy to prepare hearty soup for a cool night makes for a wonderful dinner or rustic appetizer. 

CREAMY FIVE ONION SOUP | Makes 6-8 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | From George Hirsch Living it UP! TV series 

2 Tablespoons olive oil 
2 each sweet onions*, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, chopped 
6 each Chipolini onions, chopped 
1 each red onion, chopped 
1 green onion, chopped 
1 Tablespoon flour 
1/2 cup tomato sauce 
2 teaspoons dried thyme 
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped 
2 cups chicken broth 
2 cups beef broth 

Optional: 

1/2 cup half and half
French bread croutons
Parmesan, Emmental, or Gruyere cheese 

Pre heat a large soup or saucepot to a medium heat. Add olive, sweet onions, garlic, chipolini onions, red onion and green onion. Cook for 10 minutes without stirring until you begin to see the onions in the bottom of the pot begin to brown, Stir, and allow the onions to continue to further brown. Stir and allow onions to cook for an additional five minutes. Total cooking time of onions will be about 20 minutes or more. 

Season with thyme, bay leaves, pepper, add tomato sauce, flour and stir. Add white wine and cook for 5 minutes or until dry. Add chicken broth, beef broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer, cover and cook about 30 minutes. 

Remove bay leaves then, puree one half of soup in blender or food processor.

Return pureed soup back to soup pot. Bring soup back to a boil; reduce temperature down to a simmer. Add optional half and half. Serve with a toasted French bread crouton, top and melt cheddar, grated Parmesan cheese, and jack or Gruyere cheese. 

*Note on onions: Soup may be made with any type sweet onions and garlic only. Or, you may use addition of any onion family such as leeks, chives, etc. 

Georgie Porgie Pudding

Oh, how I hated that rhyme growing up, it meant it was time to put up your dukes. It doesn't quite have the same affect anymore. Nowadays the idea of pudding stirs up nostalgic memories of my Nana making batches of her rice pudding. Nana would serve it warm on a cold night or chilled on a sticky summer's night. She might even top it with a little glazed meringue, because just a simple blob of whipped cream just wouldn’t do. I was also led to believe that comforting rice pudding had curative properties. If not feeling well, a healthy scoop was the remedy in my house. I guess that’s why the Romans ate rice pudding as a cure for upset stomachs?

Having really no economic barrier and universal appeal- I’ve seen rice pudding on restaurant menus from diners and joints (my favorite place to find RP) to high-end linen napkin on-your-lap digs. Personally I‘ve made more batches than I can even remember. Here are a few variations that come to mind; Rum Raisin, Berry, Pomegranate, Coconut Mango and Banana. Keep in mind, I made mega batches. I prepared rice pudding batches to feed a daily buffet for about 10,000 people with list of ingredients like; 18 gallons milk, 12 pounds of rice, 12 pounds sugar. Email me if you need the full recipe.  

Making a batch for 10 thousand or 10 hungry people at home is pretty easy, as most ingredients are probably already in the pantry and can even be made by using leftover plain cooked rice. 

TIPS: Knowing your grains is important, as each type of rice will provide different results. Here are your options; long or short grain white rice, brown, basmati, or jasmine. Cooking times and consistencies will vary wildly, ok maybe widely. Long grain rice makes a pudding that is slightly drier and chewier than one made with short grain rice. While brown rice will be nuttier. Arborio rice is starchier and therefore can set up without addition of eggs. Cooking times will also depend on the type of rice, along with the amount of milk used. 

Other important tips: Do not combine any sugar to rice until the rice kernels are completely tender or the starch will begin to set and harden and will not become additionally tender. Do not use converted rice as it contains pre-gelatinized starch, which will not thicken rice properly. To keep a skin from forming over rice pudding, sprinkle a small amount of granulated sugar over the top as soon as you pour the pudding out of the pot.

Experiment with your own favorite flavorings and styles, and serve it up on your next tailgate, more formal occasion or just when you need a Nana pick-me-up! Enjoy!

My Basic, But Good Rice Pudding Recipe