The ingredient lists of standard grocery store hot cocoa mixes include corn syrup, carrageenan, sucralose, and a paragraph full of other additives. Premium gourmet brands, meanwhile, often pare the list down to just a few ingredients—dry milk, cocoa and sugar. If that’s really all there is to it, why not skip the processing, save a few bucks, and make your own hot cocoa mix?
Four main ingredients
Hot chocolate mix is simple. Mix cocoa powder with sugar, dry milk, and a pinch of salt, add hot water or hot milk, and you’re good to go. The only hard-to-find ingredient can be the dry milk, but most grocery stores stock at least one brand of nonfat dry milk powder in the baking supplies aisle. Your local natural foods store may carry a wider variety of milk powder that includes whol and low-fat options.
Alton’s hot cocoa mix recipe
My go-to starter recipe is straight from Alton Brown, and takes literally 2 minutes to throw together.
Mix 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 cup cocoa powder, 2 1/2 cups dry milk powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 2 tsp. corn starch. Store in an airtight container for up to a year.
To drink, measure 2 T. of hot cocoa mix into a mug. Add hot milk or water and stir to combine. Enjoy.
There are a wide range of ingredients you can add to your hot cocoa to change it up. Like your drinks spicy-hot? Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or chili powder. Enjoy the spice, but not the heat? Add a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or cardamom. Or, for a more subtle cinnamon flavor, use a cinnamon stick as a stirring rod.
How about a minty note? Drop in a peppermint stick. For more subtle mint flavor, steep a peppermint tea bag in your cocoa for half a minute. A teaspoon of matcha powder stirred in adds a subtle Japanese-inspired flair, while a small scoop of coconut oil adds more creaminess with a nutty aftertaste. A dash of espresso powder makes for a delightful mocha.
And, of course, for adult cocoa drinkers, adding a nip of a favorite alcoholic beverage is always an option. Baileys, Kahlua, Grand Marnier, and Schnapps are obvious choices. Add whiskey for the hot cocoa equivalent of an Irish coffee, or flavored vodka for a double kick.
Turning a cup of cocoa into a decadent dessert means that very little is out of the realm of possibilities. Start with whipped cream or marshmallows, then add add sprinkles, chocolate shavings, chocolate or caramel syrup, maple syrup, powdered peppermint candies, or, wait for it… edible glitter. That’s right. It’s a real thing. So what are you waiting for? Go forth, make yourself a cup of cocoa, and enjoy.