It is the beginning of February and this week I purchased a new puffy winter coat, a hat with a wide brim, new fleece gloves and the world’s greatest waterproof boots. I know what you might be thinking: shouldn’t I have thought about securing these items earlier in the season? Perhaps covering all my winter bases in December or even November? I think the answer is that I just didn’t think it would be this bad. So now that we are on our fifth (sixth? seventh?) major winter storm of the season, I thought it was time to revamp my winter outerwear wardrobe and fully accept that we are in the throes of WINTER.
Something else needed to be revamped due to wintry conditions: my homemade hot cocoa mix. I probably should have covered this earlier in the season, probably in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Hot cocoa, however, also seems very appropriate for the chocolate-y month of February.
I propose that you take advantage of your home-bound status (if you’re in the northeast, that is) and consider finding your own perfectly tweaked homemade hot cocoa mix now. It is wildly simple to do and you likely have all of the ingredients on hand in your pantry. Another bonus? Your homemade cocoa mix won’t contain a laundry list of chemicals and other unwanted interlopers.
I should tell you, though, that sometimes the best inspiration for creating a new homemade cocoa mix is finding a new special “topping” for your hot cocoa. In this case, it was a gift of incredibly decadent caramel chocolate chip handmade marshmallows from 240 Sweet. Wow. These light and fluffy marshmallows are a far cry from the somewhat chalky, rubbery marshmallow puffs I had as a kid. I think I would love them plain, but adorned with quality chocolate chips and segmented by a layer of salted caramel, these small-batch marshmallows are truly something special. If I had been able to resist them, I think I would have also liked to try these as smores (toasted between two graham crackers), but they were gone in a flash. I think I now know my next “learn how to make this at home” project!
As the snow (and now icy rain) has continued to pour down over the past few weeks, I have honed my cocoa mix recipe and would love to share it with all of you. But there’s more: I want to hear what you like to put into YOUR hot cocoa. Do you like yours spicy and add a bit of cayenne to your homemade mix? Do you swear by adding vanilla bean while your milk is scalding? What about booze? I recently tried a warm cocoa drink called a “Wooly Mitten” (best drink name ever?) that featured peppermint schnapps and Bailey’s Irish Cream. So tell us about your favorite homemade cocoa mix and preferred toppings in the comments below and help us survive what is becoming the LONGEST WINTER EVER. We very much welcome “adult” cocoa ideas too, as booze is known to help with cabin fever.
Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
Adapted from Alton Brown
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup cocoa (dutch-process preferred)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Milk (about a cup per serving)
Sift together all ingredients to mix well. In a small pot, heat desired amount of milk until scalded (just before boiling). Pour milk into a mug and add two tablespoons of cocoa mix. Mix well. Add marshmallows or whipped cream!
Seal the mixture in an airtight container and it will stay fresh for months.
Note: I went with fresh milk here, but Alton Brown’s original recipe calls for 2 ½ cups of dried milk for this recipe and uses hot water instead of milk. I think either version would be great; it is a matter of your preference!
Some optional additions:
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Vanilla sugar
- Bailey’s Irish cream
- Peppermint schnapps
- 1 ounce Baileys Irish cream
- 1 ounce peppermint schnapps
- 2 tablespoons of cocoa mix
- 1 cup milk
- Whipped cream or marshmallows
In a small pot, heat milk until scalded (just before boiling). Pour milk into a mug and add two tablespoons of cocoa mix. Mix well. Add Baileys Irish cream and peppermint schnapps, and stir. Add marshmallows or whipped cream, and enjoy!
We’d like to give credit for these lovely photos: the initial marshmallow photo and the cocoa mix photo were taken by the author, Shelby Larsson; the third photo of packaged marshmallows was taken by Maggie Battista; the last photo was taken by Vincent Kan on Flickr.