There are few things I love better than a hot cup of cocoa. It is my dessert of choice any time of year, but especially when there is a decided nip in the air, the days turn dreary (a winter joy here in the Midwest 🙁 ) and Christmas is around the corner. Hot cocoa always cheers and warms me right up. My cocoa tastes might not be so refined, as I love a small, decadent cup of thick drinking chocolate as much as a mug of Nestlé cocoa made with water. When I came across Smitten Kitchen’s post a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to make it. She adapted the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated by omitting the powdered milk, upping the cornstarch, reducing the salt and vanilla, and switching out the unsweetened chocolate for semi-sweet/bittersweet. I couldn’t locate my issue of Cook’s that had the recipe, and you have to subscribe separately online to see their online recipes, so I just decided to make her (almost) exact recipe. I’m not sure what the original recipe tastes like, but Deb’s adapted version had me curling my toes with joy. The only thing I did differently was to double it (duh), use 3 ounces each of bittersweet and semi-sweet, and I used the seeds from half a vanilla bean. I then made a cup (all in the name of taste-testing of course) with plain almond milk. Those of you who can’t/don’t drink cow’s milk rejoice. This hot cocoa is delicious sans dairy. My husband tells me it’s delicious with cow’s milk, so feel free to use whatever milk you like best. The next best thing to sitting by the fire/window with a mug of hot chocolate? Sharing it with friends and family. Put some in a jar with a note for directions and a tablespoon measure and you have a lovely homemade gift. Check out the wrapping ideas below.
slightly adapted from: Smitten Kitchen
yield: about 3 1/2 cups, which is about 18 to 19 servings
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from a half of a fresh vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until powdery. If you don’t have a food processor, chop or grate the chocolate until it is as fine as you can get it, and stir it into the remaining ingredients. The cocoa mixture will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.
To use: Heat one cup of milk in a saucepan over medium heat until steamy (do not let the milk boil, or the cocoa will taste “off”). Add 3 tablespoons hot cocoa mix. Whisk over heat just until the cocoa is hot and the mix is completely dissolved. Pour into mug, top with marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream and some shaved chocolate. Grab a cozy seat by the fireplace, or if you don’t have a fireplace either, a seat by the window with a view of the twinkling Christmas tree.
ideas for hot cocoa mix:
in a mason jar with lid and tablespoon measure
in a bag inside a mug
in a basket along with homemade marshmallows or mini marshmallows, chocolate-dipped candy canes for stirring, and perhaps a bottle of…
Irish cream, dark rum, peppermint schnapps, Frangelico, or Kahlua for a yummy nip