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Great Food Search: Christmas Time Is For Hot Cocoa

IN THE December 21 ISSUE

FROM THE 2013 Articles,
andTerrance V. Mc Arthur,
andThe Great Food Search
SECTIONS

by Terrance Mc Arthur

Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!

December time, wintertime, Christmas time, fog-and-snow-and-bitter-cold time and my heart turns to thoughts of…Hot Chocolate, Cocoa or whatever you want to call a deep brown mug of warmth with whipped cream on top.

A tower of cocoa from Yosemite Falls Cafe.

I started this Great Food Search at the Yosemite Falls Café (4278 W. Ashlan Ave., Fresno) and what a silky, velvety hot chocolate I was served ($2.09)! Capped with a pile of foamy topping, it rolled down my throat like a warm carpet of joy. It felt so good, and when it was gone, the mug was refilled and I was asked, “Do you want whipped cream?” A “YES!” escaped my lips, a can was whisked out from hiding, and a torrent of billowy white rose over the brim of the mug in a wink of an eye.

Mammoth mugs from IHoP. Caramel to the left, Cinnamon to the right, and do-si-do! Yee-haw!

While waiting for Eggnog Pancakes at the International House of Pancakes (3020 Tulare St., Fresno), I noticed (my daughter shouted) we hadn’t ordered hot chocolate. In words that are already so last week: my bad. $2.79 brought a massive, soup-cup-sized mug of Caramel Hot Chocolate to my booth and my daughter’s eyes widened at the sight of her Cinnamon Hot Chocolate. Wow! I could imagine Lilliputian families rowing out to sea in these vessels! The Caramel was drippy and tantalizing while the Cinnamon wasn’t of the Red-Hots candy variety, but it was slightly spicy.

Of course, you can’t talk about hot drinks without talking about Starbucks (512 Academy Ave, Sanger), where there is more than unpronounceable coffee-based products to be had. There is a Hot Cocoa ($3.20 for a Grande) that is chocolate-y and rich to the borders of Dark Chocolate, covered with an S-curve of whipped topping with a couple of extra curves. With a lid on top, the whipped cream blends its way through the whole drink, softening the taste. Have something to munch on and time to spare and you’ll be happier than someone in a Geico commercial.

You can go out for Hot Chocolate or you can make it at home, and what can be cozier than snuggling with someone you love with a steaming mug of hot cocoa on a frosty night in front of a DVD of a crackling fireplace? Hey! My body generates a lot of heat, so I don’t need a real fire…and I don’t want to run the risk of burning down the house.

Look for this logo to find Stephen's delicious hot chocolate with chunks of candy cane in it!

I found a cocoa treat for my tongue in Walmart, of all places. For 60 cents, you can buy an envelope of Stephen’s Candycane Cocoa, billed as “Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa with real Peppermint Candycane” (It also can be had in small canisters). The directions say to make it with hot water, but they suggest using hot milk for an “extra creamy taste.” Grab the milk for a mug of chocolate happiness with a minty kick to it and you’re ready for some cuddle time, even if you find yourself having to curl up with a teddy bear.

At Dollar Tree (I was shopping for something else), I found a box of Swiss Miss Classic Marshmallow, six packets, for…one dollar. Mixed with hot milk, it’s smooth and gentle with petite icebergs of white marshmallow floating around the edges.

Now that I have admitted to the chocolate-lover’s version of a pub crawl, I can tell you…I still crave chocolate! Put a round box of Nesquick or a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures in front of me and you’ll see some serious carnage! I admit to a fondness for Yosemite Falls, but IHoP had a double whammy of choices and Starbuck’s was really rich and dark. I think I’m looking forward the most to a hot cocoa from…Yosemite Falls Café.

As for the make-at-home variety–let me know if you can find a reliable supply of metal-topped Stephen’s Candycane Cocoa and I’ll like you a lot!

Check out more food articles and more of Terrance’s Great Food Search column in our Food Fun section.

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Marilyn McArthurNo Gravatar December 23, 2013 at 3:24pm

I love hot chocolate. After reading this article, I can’t wait to go home from work and have a cup of hot chocolate. Now I have several places to visit too.

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