On a cold winter’s eve, what tastes better than a cup of hot cocoa? Hot cocoa mix (especially the gourmet brands, like Ghirardelli) might be a luxury item on your grocery list, and it can be really pricey if you buy a cup at Starbucks or other coffee hut. So why not make your own at home? It’s easy, tasty and saves you money. Now, how sweet is that?
The price of a medium cup of hot chocolate at Starbucks is $3.38 plus tax. You can make a whole batch of your own mix for the price of one cup of Starbucks cocoa. A can of cocoa mix in the store is only slightly higher than homemade, but the quality varies by brand and it’s likely full of unpronounceable preservatives.
The Nestle company offers this recipe for homemade mix: Combine 1 1/2 cups instant nonfat dry milk with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup baking cocoa powder, plus a pinch of salt. Most recipes recommend Dutch-processed cocoa powder for best taste. Combine thoroughly in a container that has a tight lid. To serve, place 4 tablespoons of the mixture in a cup and add boiling water and stir well. Marshmallows are optional. For richer cocoa, add hot milk instead. No preservatives or funky ingredients, either.
The Food Network has a dozen other recipes for hot cocoa mix, including a caramel one, a hazelnut flavored one, a peanut-butter version, and a peppermint cocoa, among others. They are, of course, more expensive to make, but still stack up well, cup for cup, against one you buy at a coffee shop.
For fun, when you go to the Food Network site, click on a video featuring chef Alton Brown for his version, which uses powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar, plus a few other tweaks. You get a little free entertainment with your recipe.