Comfort in a Mug

Hot Chocolate warms the soul

Hot chocolate, an ancient beverage courtesy of the Aztecs, has the ability to sooth and comfort during the frigid months. It is arguably one of the most pleasant smells on a winter morning (right up there with coffee), and certainly one of the most pleasant flavors after a few hours of shoveling. Or for children, it’s the perfect way to end an exhaustive day of sledding and snow- drift conquering.

Growing up, we never drank packaged hot cocoa at home. Perhaps
we were exposed to it at a friend’s house, but it was just, you know,
blah. However, the homemade option involved slaving over a stove, monitoring milk and chocolate for split-second signs of scorching or foaming eruptions!

Our solution? We have a handy, made-from-scratch bulk mixture we prepared every winter. In fact it’s so delicious that we use it as a gift, or include samplings as stocking stuffers! I’ve enhanced and enriched the family recipe with Ghirardelli white chocolate chips to create a hybrid between hot cocoa–a drink made from powder and hot chocolate–a drink made from actual rich chocolate. // by Lauren Yarborough Nikolas

INGREDIENTS:
– For the bulk powder mix
– 1 pkg dehydrated milk
– 2 cups Dutch process cocoa powder (unsweetened)
– 2 cups cane sugar (I love the Zulka brand!)
– 1 pkg white or dark chocolate chips pulsed in the food processor until they are the texture of rice
-Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Pay attention to the shelf life of your dehydrated milk and use that as a guide for how long your mixture will last.  We always drank our entire batch within 2 weeks so this was never an issue for us!

DIRECTIONS:
1. LADLE out 4 tablespoons of the mixture into a standard coffee cup and ad milk, or your choice of milk alternative (chocolate hemp milk is good!)
2. HEAT for about 2 minutes in the microwave. When you take it out it may be very hot so please be careful! Give it a stir, and add a dash of cream to thicken and round out the flavors.
3. EMBELISH, as you will! My kids loved a combination of mountainous whipped cream, sprinkles, and a candy cane.

Cook’s tip: Want to spice it up a notch and create a party size serving for six? In 2 Cups of boiling water, add 3 short cinnamon sticks and a wee dash of cayenne pepper for about 10-15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon and reduce heat to low. Add about 1/4 Cup heavy cream (or flavored coffee creamer), 3 Cups of milk, and 1 Cup of the mix. Let it heat up slowly. If you want your hot chocolate a little richer add more chocolate chips if you wish!

There you have it, a delicious DIY hot cocoa mix. Experiment with other
spices such as cloves, vanilla or even fruit extracts. For great housewarming gifts, I’ve packaged this mix into nicely shaped recycled jars along with recipe cards, peppermint schnapps, or candy. People love them!