In the classic novel, A Wrinkle in Time, the Murry family wakes to a storm in the middle of the night. Each member separately makes their way to the kitchen in search of comfort, surprised (but not really) to find the youngest son, Charles Wallace, already there making hot cocoa for everyone.
"I’ll make myself some cocoa, [Meg] decided. "That’ll cheer me up, and if the roof blows off, at least I won’t go off with it."
In the kitchen a light was already on, and Charles Wallace was sitting at the table drinking milk and eating bread and jam ...
“Hi,” he said cheerfully. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
The next time a winter storm blows through, turning your home into a warm cocoon of books and snacks, celebrate Charles Wallace's affectionate intuition with a mouthwatering hot cocoa bar, inspired by the wildly popular charcuterie boards taking the foodie world by storm.
The secret to composing a beautiful board, regardless of the type of food on it, is to include a variety of colors, sizes and textures. A board full of different sizes of white marshmallows wouldn't quite have the same impact as a board featuring contrasting pinks, whites, reds, and treats other than the typical gelatinous confections.
Begin by gathering everything in your pantry that might possibly taste good dipped in chocolate. In addition to your marshmallows, look for:
crushed candy canes
white chocolate chips
Pirouline type cookies (long cylinders)
spice cookies (like ginger snaps)
crushed toffee candy
coarse sea salt
malted candy balls (like Whoppers)
Now find a large platter or cutting board, and some small bowls or cups to hold the tiniest items. Your composition needs visual variety, so plan to leave the larger items directly on the board, and just corral the chips, salt and crushed candy into small vessels. Don't forget tiny spoons!
As you lay out your board, try to avoid placing foods of the same color directly next to each other. Begin with the largest items, then work outward in a sort of spiral so your finished product isn't symmetrical or regimented, but "swirly."
Vary the presentation of each type of food. Set out some cookies in lines, and others in piles. Place some marshmallows in a rounded pile and others in long, snaky lines.
Keep filling in your plate with one type of food at a time, keeping the bowls apart from each other. If you have more food than will fit on your platter, the bowls will make cute satellite planets placed on the table next to the larger dish.
When it's time to serve your hot chocolate, heat up a large pot of milk on the stove. If you're planning to offer one flavor of cocoa, mix that into the hot milk, then transfer the whole thing to a teapot or a large pitcher. If you'll be providing a variety of cocoa flavors, transfer the plain hot milk to the serving pot, and display the cocoa powders next to your toppings board.
Line up cocoa mugs and large spoons for each guest to stir their own drink, plus extra spoons to scoop the toppings, and you're ready to enjoy your Wrinkle In Time inspired hot cocoa board!