When it’s cold out and rain is lashing the windows, there are few things more comforting than the smells of something baking. Especially when that something contains my favourite spice: cinnamon. I just can’t get enough of that warm, dark scent. I throw it into a lot of things: bread, shortbread, apple crumble, buttercream, cake, chocolate truffles, coffee, hot chocolate, tea, mulled wine, hot spiced cider, even spiced beer on occasion.
It pairs well with sugar, of course, and butter… and from there it’s only a tiny step to hot, crunchy cinnamon toast, all utterly delicious. Add rich, velvety, cinnamon-laced hot chocolate and I’m as much in heaven as Jack is after the nightclub incident in Job Hunt.
At that point in his journey, Jack doesn’t expect anything from anyone. He knows that people aren’t reliable and he’s trained himself to be entirely self-sufficient. Enter Gareth, whom he’s not seen in seven years, and who didn’t just accompany Jack to a nightclub to watch his back, but who now immediately swings into caretaker mode and makes food for Jack.
I’ve always loved that particular Jack and Gareth scene and not just because Jack needs looking after, or I got to write about delicious, cinnamon-laced food. For me, this kitchen scene has always felt like a prelude to something exciting, just like hot chocolate and cinnamon toast. If you’ve never made either, I encourage you to remedy this immediately. It’s an afternoon pick-me-up like few others, and when you’re alone and in need of cheering up, it’s as good as a hug.
And while I’m not Jack, I’d be happy for Gareth to hug me any day of the week. 😉
Cinnamon toast is dead easy to make. The “healthy” version goes like this:
- toast slices of bread on one side only
- spread untoasted side thickly with butter
- mix caster sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle equally thickly over the butter
- pop under a hot grill and heat until the butter and sugar melt into delicious, cinnamon-scented crunch.
- eat while hot.
For the more decadent version read the snip and follow along with Gareth. And now, let’s sit down with our cinnamon booty and watch Gareth at work…
While Jack showered, Gareth surveyed the kitchen. The replica Victorian stove was stunning, as were the period tiles and the restored cast-iron fireplace, but that’s where the impressive display ended. Having seen Jack in tight black leather, Gareth wasn’t surprised when he didn’t find an awful lot of food to choose from. He located bread, butter, sugar, cinnamon and milk and was pleased as punch when he could add cream and top-quality dark cocoa powder to his small stash. He would feed Jack cinnamon toast and cinnamon-laced hot chocolate, sweet enough to calm Jack’s jangling nerves and rich enough to help put a bit of padding back on the lean frame.
Decision made and linear plan established, Gareth set a frying pan on the stove to heat while he cut two slices of bread into fingers. He added a hefty chunk of butter to the frying pan and while he waited for it to melt, he mixed the ingredients for the hot chocolate in another saucepan and placed that on the stove too.
It took just a few minutes to soak the toast in melted butter and dredge it in sugar and cinnamon before placing it under the grill. And only a few moments more before he had a plate of hot toast and a huge mug of warm, spicy cocoa all ready.
“God, that smell!” Jack groaned as he stepped into the kitchen. “I’ve just died and gone to heaven.”
He had changed into jogging bottoms and a deep green rugby shirt. His hair was damp, his feet were bare, and Gareth made a determined effort not to drool.
Definitely,” Jack settled himself at the kitchen table. “I’d forgotten how handy you are in the kitchen.”
“And around a campfire, don’t forget that.”
“How could I? We used to be the envy of the whole brigade. All we had to do was find food, and dinner was taken care of. Nobody else had it that easy!”
Gareth grinned, watching the toast disappear at light speed and wondering if he should make more. “Maybe I should have taught you how to cook it too. But what’s the benefit of being in charge if I can’t do what I like best?”
“That I can find me a mountain of food, but then still starve to death?” There was a twinkle in Jack’s eyes that Gareth was glad to see. “That is a handicap,” he agreed. “And one I need to take responsibility for. Maybe a few cookery lessons are in order.”
“Tried that,” Jack said around a mouthful of crunchy toast, washing it down with a large swallow of hot chocolate. “Our local curry house did a cookery evening, and I went along to learn how to make their lamb phall.” He set the mug on the table and leaned back in the chair. “Let’s just say… it didn’t end well.”
“How so?” The blush on Jack’s face intrigued Gareth enough to keep at it.
“Well….” Jack picked up the mug and hid his face. “I set the ingredients on fire.”
If you’ve not met Jack and Gareth yet, you can find out more about the Power of Zero series by clicking here.
And for anyone who needs a little more Jack and Gareth in their lives, here’s a treat I prepared earlier.
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