Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix! With instructions for making plain, peppermint, and Mexican chocolate versions. Easy, inexpensive homemade gift.
Do you hate crowds? Do you have gift-giving anxiety? I do.
In fact, I’ll do almost anything to stay out of the stores during the holidays. My friends all know that they will receive a gift, but that gift will come from my kitchen.
Now I’ve been given some doozies in the past from friends similarly inclined to edible gift-giving, so I try to make gifts of food that will appeal to as many people as possible. No dilly beans. No “what’s-in-that?” unidentifiable candies. Nope. I’m playing it safe.
A cocoa mix like this one is universally loved and goes a long way toward solving my holiday shopping anxiety. Preparation time is ridiculously fast. The result is ridiculously charming.
I tried many versions before deciding that a simple approach is really the best – no fancy chocolate bits to melt, just cocoa powder, sugar, and flavorings. Dutch process cocoa is more alkaline and darker in color than natural cocoa powder, and therefore slightly more appealing in a hot cocoa, but you could really use either kind.
I’ve also included variations for Mexican Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Hot Chocolate, just in case you’d like to mix it up!
One pastry chef trick I use: Blend pure extracts or finely grated citrus zest into the sugar so the sugar becomes perfumed. I’ve done this here for this recipe, but the trick is good enough that you should think about using it other sugary situations as well. Try combining sugar and lemon zest the next time you make a lemon bundt cake, for example.
When you’re shopping for ingredients, pick out some pretty jars, wrapping paper, ribbon, and few holiday baubles to in which to wrap your gift. Print out the mix directions and paste them on oak tag labels, or write them out by hand. Check out your local office supply stores for ideas and supplies.
A homemade gift is truly a gift of love. Love thyself, too, and keep a jar stashed in the cupboard for yourself. You’ll be glad you did when the four o’clock slump hits on a chilly, gray day.
Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe
Cornstarch gives the cocoa a smooth and creamy texture that doesn’t interfere with flavor.