I can’t be the only person who’s ever had a cup of “Just add hot water!” hot cocoa and felt insulted by its insipid and saccharine-sweet results. Where is the chocolate and the complexity, I ask you? Now, I know there are people who really like the super-light, super-sweet chocolate flavor of these mixes, but personally, I prefer a good deep chocolate profile.
So I set out to make my own mix. Obviously, the star of this endeavor is cocoa, so it was important to use a good one. No bland and lifeless Hershey’s for this. I happen to have a kilo of Callebaut‘s Dutch-processed cocoa in my pantry. Yes, a kilo.
I vastly prefer Dutched cocoa’s complexity over natural cocoa’s limpness. It’s like the difference between butter and margarine; butter tastes awesome, margarine does not.
I wanted my hot chocolate to be thick, rich, creamy, and not too sweet. The recipes I consulted all wanted something like a one-to-one ratio of cocoa and sugar–way too sweet for me–and one recipe recommended powdered sugar. I liked the idea of using confectioner’s sugar because it has a small amount of cornstarch in it and that would help thicken the hot chocolate. But I also wanted to be able to add flavored syrups to my drink or for guests to adjust the sweetness to their own tastes. So right off the bat, I cut the sugar down to about a cup. I also added some salt to give it a little depth and balance the sweetness. For creaminess, I used powdered milk.
From top to bottom: confectioner’s sugar, Dutch-processed cocoa, and powdered milk
The end result? Creamy hot dark chocolate that has real personality. You can use hot water for this mix if you don’t have milk on hand, but I REALLY recommend using milk. Because I’m lactose-sensitive (I can have some dairy but not tons), I use half vanilla soy milk and half 2% cow’s milk. That’s as low-fat as I’ll go; you will never catch me drinking skim milk. It costs more per serving if you’re using the good cocoa powder, but for me it’s worth the extra cost because the quality and taste is so satisfying.
This mix would be a great addition to a food-lover’s gift basket: use a canning jar for the mix, and fill the basket with stuff like homemade caramel sauce, sea salt (for salted caramel hot chocolate!), shortbread cookies, and anything else the recipient might like.
Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
3 cups powdered milk
2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1 TBS table salt
1 TBS powdered vanilla (optional)
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, then transfer to an airtight container.
To make hot chocolate: Add hot milk to two to three tablespoons of mix.
I’ve had great luck in dumping cold milk into a mug with the mix and zapping it on high in the microwave (mine is 1100 watts) for about 60 seconds, then stirring. Be careful not to nuke it for too long or it’ll explode and make a mess of your microwave. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) Add additional sugar (or flavored syrup) to taste. Consume slowly. Smoke a cigarette.