Welcome to the season of Hot Chocolate. It’s one of my favorite elements of winter, the others being snow, Christmas, and my birthday. Christmas is at the top of that list, FYI. Since more people seem to being leaning towards home-made treats, we’re seeing a LOT of homemade mixes for things you used to buy at the store. Case in point: hot chocolate. I’m not denying that there are really yummy mixes at the supermarket (umm, Ghirardelli anyone?) but it’s nice to know what’s going into your system, especially at this time of year when it’s usually not super-nutritious! So back to the homemade hot cocoa mixes. There are a lot, people, let me tell you. I’ve done my research, and there are a lot. This means there’s a lot of variations: ground chocolate or cocoa powder, cayenne pepper or not, white chocolate or dark chocolate, etc.
There are also some weird shenanigans going on and some bloggers (who shall not be named) are posting hot cocoa mix recipes that include a chocolate drink mix or pudding mix. Um…excuse me? I don’t want a mix that is made with a mix, just sayin’. But apparently its delicious, so if that’s your thing than you don’t have to follow my rules. But my rules are awesome.
There are, as I said, quite a few variations of this classic winter drink. It all comes down to what you’re in the mood for… there can be a lot of delicious, but different, recipes for a certain thing. So here’s the scoop: it all depends on what you’re craving. Is it malted hot chocolate? Add some malt powder. Is it rich hot chocolate? Go for grated chocolate instead of cocoa powder. Is it Mexican? Add some cayenne pepper. Spiced? Add some cinnamon and nutmeg. There are literally dozens of ways to make hot cocoa mix. But that’s not what you want to hear, is it? Just give us the dang recipe already!
Patience, patience. Time to get down and dirty and chemistry-y. Basically all hot cocoa recipes have three things in common: sugar, powdered milk, and salt. (quite a few actually use cornstarch also) I prefer to use powdered sugar because it dissolves more easily into your drink, and you aren’t left with devious dregs at the bottom out of whose flavor you were maliciously cheated. Powdered milk is a must for creamy-ness and richness. Adding coffee creamer is an even richer option, but I wouldn’t substitute it for all of the powdered milk, that would be like making your hot chocolate with cream instead of milk: probably yummy but you could only stomach about 3 sips. Salt is a must because salt is usually a must. Need there be more said? The cornstarch I suppose is for structure and smoothness, so we’ll go ahead and add some.
Okay, now for the really hard questions. Ground chocolate or cocoa powder? Well, when in doubt, use both! Luckily for me, I have some really good dutch-process cocoa on hand, so there’s no way I’m not using that, but the ground chocolate should also be added because it will add some sweetness and melty chocolate goodness. I’d say I wouldn’t want to do all ground chocolate because it might end up being much too thick. Also, it is quite possible to make the mix without ground chocolate, I made some t’other day with just cocoa powder (but of course I didn’t keep track of the measurements) and it was deeelicious. I’m not going to add any flavorings though, this is just the basic, yummy, perfect-on-its-own hot chocolate. Based on my research, the most common milk-sugar-cocoa ratios are 6-4-3 and 5-4-2. When cornstarch is added, it’s only about 1-2 tsp, and only about 1/2 c. of creamer. Keeping this in mind, and tweaking and perfecting, here is the final result:
Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix:
3 c. powdered milk
1/2 c. coffee creamer
1 c. cocoa powder
3 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate, finely ground (this is really important: if you don’t grind it, it won’t dissolve in your liquid)
2 T. cornstarch
5 c. powdered sugar
2 t. salt
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and sift until well combined; store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Top-hole Tip- whip your cream in the blender: super fast and easy!