There is nothing better on a cold day than curling up with a mug of hot cocoa. It is comfort food in a cup and will carry most people back to childhood memories of coming in to warm up after playing in the snow. Store bought mixes rarely live up to memories. Although it is easy to spend money on fancy hot chocolate drinks at your local coffee shop, it is just as easy and much less expensive, to make your own hot cocoa mix. Consider bringing a tin of it along on your next trip, so it can be enjoyed on the road or at the hotel. It also makes a great gift to give to friends over the holidays.
Basic Hot Cocoa Mix
One of the easiest basic recipes for regular hot chocolate is Alton Brown’s. It is very easy to make and lends itself well to additives. Mix the following ingredients together:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
2.5 cups powdered, non-fat (skim) milk
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
Blend well and store in an airtight container. To prepare it, half fill the mug with the mix and the balance is hot water or hot milk to bring it to the top of the cup. Mix well and enjoy.
White Hot Chocolate Mix
If you prefer white hot chocolate, try the following mix from Happy Hour Projects.
1 cup grated white chocolate (use a food processor)
1 3.3 oz package of instant white chocolate pudding mix
1 cup powdered, non-fat (skim) milk
To prepare, add 2-3 tsp of the mix to hot water or hot milk.
In both recipes it is important to use non-fat milk as it is less likely to clump during preparation. In the case of the first recipe, the cornstarch acts as a thickener. In the white cocoa mixture the pudding mixture containers thickeners already so the cornstarch is unnecessary.
Basic hot cocoa is tasty and very enjoyable but don’t stop there. That fancy coffee shop down the road offers many different kinds of hot chocolate flavours such as candy cane, Mexican, and gingerbread. This can be done at home too.
To make your hot chocolate richer, try adding grated or ground chocolate chips (milk, semisweet, dark, or white) to the mix.
Mexican hot chocolate is just cocoa that has had cayenne and cinnamon added to it. Start by adding a pinch of each. Have a test mug. Increase the amount of the spices as desired. There are a number of other spices that combine well with chocolate including gingerbread spice, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and malted milk powder (or ground up Whoppers candies).
Baking chips come in a variety of flavours now. Try using mint chocolate chips for a peppermint or candy cane taste. If you are one of those people who believe that peanut butter and chocolate are never wrong together, try adding a few ground peanut butter chips to the mix. Butterscotch chips can also be used. If you cannot find baking chips in the flavour you are looking for, consider grinding up a premium chocolate bar, such as a Lindt or Ghirardelli bar, and adding that to the mix. There is no limit on the possibilities. Always start by adding a small amount, tasting, and adjusting your recipe.
Making your own hot cocoa, means having an extra special treat on hand for those blustery winter days. It is easy to make and inexpensive, particularly when compared to the prices at coffee shops for similar products. There are endless varieties to enjoy or share with a friend. So, what are you waiting for?