If you want a fantastic homemade holiday gift idea that will satisfy just about any friend, family member or colleague, consider the magic of hot cocoa. Can you even conjure an image of drinking hot cocoa without there being some sense of comfort and a little glimpse of joy? As simple and traditional as hot cocoa may be, especially during the holiday season, it is still a gift that just about anyone will love and use. And the fantastic thing about giving homemade hot cocoa mix is that you can easily personalize your recipe to match the tastes of your chocolate-loving loved one.
Making a Traditional Hot Cocoa Mix
First of all, there are two main types of cocoa – Dutch processed cocoa and unprocessed (regular unsweetened) cocoa. The distinction between the two is most relevant in baking. For the purposes of our homemade hot cocoa, let’s focus on using regular unprocessed, unsweetened cocoa.
There are four key ingredients that you will want in your hot cocoa mix – cocoa powder, evaporated cane juice (run it through a coffee grinder to make it “powdered!”), nonfat dry milk powder (or a non-dairy creamer will work in a pinch) and a smidge of salt. Using a dry, medium-sized bowl, mix 4 cups of nonfat dry milk with 2 cups of evaporated cane juice, 1 cup of your unsweetened cocoa and a finger pinch of salt. Thoroughly mix your ingredients for 2 minutes with a whisk, making sure to keep stirring until the color of the cocoa mix is uniform
A Few Hot Cocoa Remixes to Add Some Sass
One of the cool things about homemade hot cocoa mix is that you can definitely add a bit of flair and style to your hot cocoa. Why not tailor your hot cocoa mix to cater to the personality being served?
- For your spicier types, add a pinch of cinnamon, or… cayenne pepper. Yes, cayenne pepper. Pepper is actually a popular companion for gourmet chocolate and surely your cocoa is gourmet.
- For the true chocolate connoisseurs, use 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar instead of 2 cups. Really fancy it up by crushing ¼ cup of semi-sweet dark chocolate chips and adding it to the dry cocoa mix.
- For your more artistic spirits, add visual appeal to your homemade hot cocoa mix by adding whole semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips and miniature marshmallows.
- For a whiff of gourmet, add white, milk and dark chocolate chips to the mix and leave them whole.
Attach handwritten instructions for your giftees to pour a steaming cup of hot milk over 1/3 cup of cocoa mix. Be creative with the packaging. How you choose to package your homemade hot cocoa is as versatile as the mix itself. Just make sure to top off your delicious gift with a curly red ribbon and a candy cane.
About the Author
Sorilbran Stone is an Atlanta-based new media gal and information professional. A self-proclaimed wily mompreneur, she authors the Girl Warrior productivity book series for women and is the founder and editor of Girl ReImagined, an online magazine that provides resources to promote independence and self-sufficiency in women.
Original Photo: Cocoa Art by Vijay on Flickr