Hot cocoa warms the tummy and pleases the senses. While commercially prepared hot cocoa mixes are available at your convenience, making a mix from scratch gives you the flexibility of altering the ingredients as you like. If you normally pour milk into a steamy cup of hot cocoa, adding a powdered variety to the mix at the time of preparation means that all you need is hot water when a hot cocoa craving hits.
The Powdered Advantage
Adding milk to hot cocoa gives it a creamier texture and enhanced flavor. Unlike the liquid version, powdered milk has a longer shelf-life and does not require refrigeration. Although powdered whole milk is available, it is best for short-term use because of its high fat content. If you plan to store the hot cocoa mix long term, nonfat varieties of powdered milk are preferable. On the shelf or on the go, as long as you have hot water, the dried mix is ready as soon as the kettle boils.
Milk in the Mix
Whip up a simple hot cocoa mix by adding 2 tablespoons of dried cocoa to every cup of powdered milk. If you prefer to use chocolate chips or chocolate shavings as a base, add a cupful to a blender containing about 1 1/2 cups of powdered milk and blend until finely ground. Confectioners' or powdered sugar added to the hot cocoa mix is optional; to add some sweetness, use up to 1/2 cup per cup of powdered milk.
The Right Container
Store hot cocoa mix out of direct sunlight, in a room-temperature cabinet or on a dry shelf. A sealed, plastic storage bag or glass jar makes the perfect vessel for storing the dried contents. In an airtight container, the hot cocoa mix remains safe to consume for up to six months. Open the storage container and remove a few scoops as needed, remembering to reseal the plastic bag or secure the lid tightly on the glass jar to maintain freshness.
Drink It Up
When you are ready for a warm cup of homemade cocoa, add three heaping spoonfuls to your mug. About 3/4 cup of boiling water is enough to dilute the mix, with the help of a good stir with the spoon. Pump up the flavor with a cinnamon stick or candy cane stirrer. Top the cocoa with a handful of marshmallows, some whipped cream and even some shredded chocolate to get your taste buds tingling.