Hot cocoa is comfort on a cold day. I like mine dark, rich, and chocolaty. This mix is all that. It's so easy to make a quick batch to have on hand during the winter months. And, this always makes a popular gift. It's hard to find someone who doesn't like hot cocoa. You'll find downloadable tags below, to make it easy for you to turn this into a gift jar.
Many hot cocoa mix recipes use an artificial coffee creamer to add creaminess to the mix. I prefer to leave out artificial ingredients and eliminate that hint of a chemical taste. This recipe, based on Alton Brown's, has pure, wholesome ingredients. It has powdered milk in it, so it's intended to be mixed with hot water. But I like to add more creaminess by doubling up on the milk--I like mine mixed with hot milk. Hot water is good, too. Your choice.
My recipe is DOUBLE chocolate, because I add mini chocolate chips along with the cocoa powder. Why? Because I can. And, my philosophy is that more chocolate is always better. The chips melt into the hot cocoa and add a layer of richness that sends me straight to chocolate heaven.
I recommend that you use the best quality cocoa you can find. That's the key to a good cup of hot cocoa. I prefer Dutch-process cocoa, if it's available where you shop. My favorite is Penzey's. If they don't have a store in your area, you can order it online. But, there are more common brands available at the grocery store that will do just fine. Amazon has a good organic Dutch-process cocoa.
Did you know? Dutch-process cocoa is a darker, richer color and has less acidity than natural cocoa giving it a smoother, mellow taste.
Assemble the ingredients: cocoa, powdered milk, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt, mini chocolate chips, and cayenne. (Don't let the cayenne scare you. Just add a pinch to the mix. It doesn't make it taste spicy--but it does enhance the cocoa flavor. Trust me and Alton Brown on this one.)
If you have a food processor, it makes the mixing easy and thorough. But you can also whisk everything together in a big bowl.
First add the powdered sugar and cocoa to the food processor. Pulse until mixed.
Add the cornstarch, salt, and pinch of cayenne. Pulse until mixed.
Add the powdered milk. Process for 20-30 seconds until well mixed. The food processor does a great job of pulverizing the dried milk and giving the cocoa mix a fine, consistent texture throughout.
Transfer the mix to a large bowl, add the chocolate chips, and stir.
With the tags I provide below and some ribbon, you've got a quick, homemade gift that is sure to please. Perfect for teachers, neighbors, and co-workers. This is also a great gift for college students--something I always made for our boys to have in their college dorms. Back in the day.
Downloadable tags. Here are 4 downloadable gift tags to choose from. They include instructions for using the cocoa mix. Just click on the image to print a sheet of the tag(s) of your choice. You can print them on sticker paper and stick them on the jar. Or, print them on paper or card stock and tape or tie them on.
1. Red & Green generic Christmas tag
2. Red & Green Christmas tag with place to write "To and From"
3. Blue generic winter tag
4. Blue winter tag with place to write "To and From"
These tags were printed on sticker paper. It's easy to cut them out and stick them right on the jar. That way the mixing instructions are attached and handy. Add a bow if you like to pretty it up.
Or, print the tags on card stock, punch a whole in the corner and tie on a rubberband. These can easily be stretched around the jar rim where they can stay for easy reference.
Kick the gift up a notch by including a fun mug.
Add a bottle of my homemade peppermint liqueur to a mug along with some candy canes and marshmallows for an extra fun gift. I made up a dozen of these gift combos to give to King-Mans co-workers last year, and they were a hit!
View Easy Peppermint Liqueur Recipe
(If you don't want to make your own liqueur, you can also buy a big bottle of peppermint schnapps and divide into smaller bottles.)
Here are the tags I used on my bottles of peppermint liqueur. Click on the image to download a sheet of them:
Don't forget to save some of the mix so you can make a delicious, chocolaty mug of double chocolate hot cocoa for YOU!
TO MAKE ONE MUG OF HOT COCOA:
YUMMY VARIATIONS AND ADDITIONS:
Make it a Yummy day!
Other posts that may interest you:
This post was updated 11/2013.