I’m going to change things up a bit and celebrate a Simpsons anniversary: The Simpsons Movie came out 10 years ago this month! How nuts is that? Real nuts, that’s how nuts. Mmm … nuts.
The movie was a nice return to The Simpsons roots in some ways (praise Jebus), enlisting some classic writers and David Silverman as director. I remember being cautiously excited about it when it came out, enough so that I went and saw it in the theater. Not in just any theater, but in my hometown, which competed in the Springfield premiere contest (and lost to Vermont of all places). To really sum things up, I had fun watching it, and it nailed the classic Simpsons tone at times. Of course, it didn’t nail it the whole time, and I’ve only seen the movie a few times in comparison to the dozens of times I’ve seen seasons 2-10. But the point of this series is not for me to get super critical about a piece of The Simpsons canon (because who wants to read that).
I also won’t tell you the plot of the entire movie, as you have probably seen it and/or are capable of reading the Wikipedia page. But the whole shebang generally revolves around Homer ruining Springfield by polluting the lake so bad that the EPA drops a dome over the town, trapping everyone in. Rather than being killed by an angry mob, the family narrowly escapes and starts a new life in Alaska. The family is understandably angry at Homer, and they end up leaving to go save the now apocalyptic Springfield. Homer comes to his senses and follows, and once there manages a pretty cool motorcycle trick to toss a bomb, break the dome, and save the day. Oh, and Lisa falls in love with a kid named Colin, Homer gets a pig (Spider Pig, Harry Porker, etc.) and Grandpa Simpson has a premonition.
Some interesting things about this movie: it is a movie, so they took advantage of the medium and did some things they can’t do on TV. This includes showing Bart nude, Homer giving the finger, Ned saying penis (“bountiful penis”), Bart being drunk, Marge swearing and more. It’s also very self-aware, making comedic commentary about the big screen format, especially in the opening sequence.
And! Bart gets real sad about his crappy relationship with Homer, and pines for a good relationship with his Dad, like Ned Flanders has with his sons. Ned shows Bart kindness by providing him pants when he’s naked at Krusty Burger and tries to cheer him up by making him a super fancy hot cocoa. Hot cocoa, guys! This is where we get to the food. After a heart-to-heart at Rod and Todd’s window, Ned makes Bart the fanciest hot cocoa ever. After setting a mug on the sill, he adds layer upon layer of tasty garnishes on top, even using a blowtorch to toast the marshmallow. Bart can’t resist, and climbs down his tree limb to retrieve the treat.
Ned’s hot cocoa is undeniably delicious—I mean, it’s cocoa with lots of whipped cream, shaved chocolate, a chocolate wafer and a toasty marshmallow. It’s the kind of thing that sugary dreams are made of. It is, however, pretty hard to construct and make look as fantastic as Ned does on that windowsill. It pretty much defies gravity, and I had real trouble getting my wafer to stay standing and support a whole warm marshmallow. Maybe I don’t pray enough or something? But rather than relying on the grace of god, I ended up sticking a toothpick in the marshmallow and poking the other end into the wafer so that it would all stay picturesque long enough for me to take a picture. Cheating? Maybe. But need I remind you that I don’t live in a cartoon?
Here’s a hot take: it’s too freaking hot to drink hot cocoa! But have you ever experienced an iced cocoa? It’s really just a hot cocoa chilled and blended with ice, and it’s a delicious, delicious treat. Lighter than a milkshake but more fun than chocolate milk, it’s the perfect 10-year update to Ned’s cocoa. Keep the decorations, they’re what make the drink climb-a-tree-worthy.
Ned’s Hot Cocoa
Serves 1 Sad Bart
1 single-serving pack of high-quality hot cocoa mix
8 ounces whole milk
1 can whipped cream (such as Reddi-Wip)
1 chocolate wafer
1 piece of chocolate bar, for grating
1 medium marshmallow (“original” size)
1 coffee mug
1 hand-held grater
Warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove. Add the hot cocoa mix and whisk until smooth. Pour in the mug.
How Ned does it: Top with a swirl of whipped cream. Stick the wafer on top. Grate chocolate on top of that. Add a little whipped cream swirl on top of the wafer. Add the marshmallow on top of that. Use the blowtorch to toast the marshmallow, careful not to melt the whipped cream and everything else.
How I did it: Let the cocoa cool a bit so that it doesn’t immediately melt the whipped cream. Meanwhile, toast the marshmallow under the broiler or carefully on the stovetop (I stuck mine with a toothpick and had a mini marshmallow roast) and let cool a bit. Top the cocoa with a swirl of whipped cream. Grate chocolate on top. Add a little whipped cream on top of the wafer and balance it in the cocoa. Carefully stack the marshmallow on top of that (toothpick optional) and take a photo really fast before it falls over.
Ned’s Iced Cocoa 2017 Edition
Serves 1 Sad, Hot Bart
Prepare the cocoa and chill in the fridge until cold.
Blend with 1 cup of ice until smooth and frothy.
Pour into a tall glass and decorate the Ned way (as seen above).
Laurel Randolph is a food and lifestyle writer hailing from Tennessee and living in Los Angeles. She enjoys cooking, baking and candlestick making. Tweet at her face: @laurelrandy