Chocolate lovers, rejoice! Recipes for homemade hot cocoa mix and chocolate syrup are so easy and delicious, you won’t believe no one told you about them before. Skip the brown squeeze bottle full of preservatives and artificial flavors; it tastes better when you make your own chocolate syrup to drizzle over ice cream and use to make chocolate milk. And a cup of cocoa cheers up a chilly day, but it isn’t just for cold weather. Mix up a batch to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.
Before we get started, let me address a few common chocolatey concerns:
- You won’t need to melt any chocolate. (No chocolate-melting required at all. I promise!)
- There is no special equipment involved. Do you have a saucepan and something to stir with? Then you’re set.
- Wondering why you would want to make your own chocolate syrup? There are so many answers: It’s delicious, you’re in control of the ingredients, it’s less expensive, and sometimes it’s easier to make your own than make yet another supermarket run. (There’s also the matter of having a chocolate craving hit when it’s 9:30 p.m. and you’re already in your jammies).
The ingredients for chocolate syrup are probably already in your cabinets:
Sugar (2 cups)
Cocoa powder (1/2 cup)
Water (1 cup)
Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
- Combine all ingredients except the vanilla extract in a saucepan.
- Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it boils. Stirring is important.
- Allow it to boil for a few minutes, but don’t walk away from it. Stir it frequently so that it doesn’t boil over and make a mess. (You can turn the heat down slightly, as long as it continues to simmer.)
- Add the vanilla extract just after you remove it from the heat.
That’s it! You now have chocolate syrup. It will be thin when it’s hot like this, just out of the pan, but will thicken as it cools. Definitely let it cool quite a bit before placing into a plastic squeeze bottle. Later, when you pull it out of the fridge, you’ll see it’s just as thick as the store kind.
You can adjust the amount of chocolate and sugar to make it taste the way you want, but those amounts will give you a sweet, syrupy chocolate like the kind that comes in a brown plastic squeeze bottle from the grocery store. Just note that homemade syrup does not last as long as the store-bought kind.
Hot Cocoa Mix
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. 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 more expensive than homemade, but the quality varies by brand and it’s likely full of unpronounceable preservatives and funky ingredients.
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 the 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.
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.
Hey, get creative! You may find some other ingredients when you go searching for that rarely used can of cocoa powder. Sprinkles, mini-marshmallows, marshmallow fluff, even chopped snack-sized candy bars can be added to that hot cup of cocoa to make it extra special for the one you adore. Use a peppermint candy cane or cinnamon stick left over from Christmas or a chocolate bunny to stir it up. Pull out the china teacups from Grandma’s glass hutch. However you make it, now is the time to enjoy your homemade treats.
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