Today has me thinking about friendships–and hot chocolate. But allow me a little leeway here. When I was planning these Small Gifts, Big Treats posts, I started thinking about the food gifts that I once got. And in college I had a great friend–who is still a great friend in addition to being a fantastic mom, wife, and person–who made large batches of hot chocolate mix as a gift for friends. She would also take the leftover mix and make it for our several roommates to enjoy. So, I thought, wow that would be a great gift. Hence, my Hot Chocolate Mix for your gift-giving consideration.
Like s’mores, there’s a certain nostalgia to a hot cup of cocoa. Hot chocolate mix reminds me of my friend, Cam, and how dear she is to me. It also makes me think of being a kid and heating up cup after cup of Swiss Miss with my family. We would heat them up in our microwave and watch movies drinking them with little mini marshmallows. See? Nostalgic magic.
Cocoa is also just great for cool nights in front of the fire. They pair super well with cookies and other chocolate treats. They keep your hands warm while you’re sitting outside with friends. So, it kind of lends itself to being the perfect gift in a way. Not only are you giving someone a chocolate-y treat, you’re giving them something to share with loved ones, something to literally warm their souls on a winter night. But I digress…
The best part of this recipe is that it is the easiest thing to put together. It is no-bake, no-cook, no nothin’! All you do is prepare the mix and put it in a pretty package. The other best part is that it’s easily customized. There are a hundred recipes for hot chocolate mix out there. But you can make it whatever you want. And that’s what I did! I took a basic recipe from Martha Stewart and added to it what I wanted to taste in a cup of cocoa.
What’s in the mix
Like I said, I started with pretty standard mix. I used rich dark chocolate cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. But to make it feel like Christmas in a bowl I added some extra spices. For mine, I went for classic winter flavors: cinnamon and nutmeg. You want to add just enough to taste it, but not so much that it overwhelms everything. These are strong flavors, so a little goes a long way. Besides, we all want chocolate to be the main event here–at least I do.
I also added a pinch of chili powder–about 1/4 tsp. I love a little kick every now and again, so just the smallest little bit of chili powder does the trick. Also, in case you didn’t know this, chocolate and spice go hand-in-hand. I was a little hesitant at first about how it would come out, but I’m pleased to say that it came out beautifully. The richness in the dark chocolate picks up those spicy undertones and enhances all the other spices as well. But be careful! Remember: a little goes a long way.
How to make the cup
Whisk. That’s all. I told you this was easy! Place all your ingredients, which should all be dry ones–in a bowl and whisk them together. I like to whisk dry ingredients rather than just mix them with a spoon, because it’s a little more evenly spread. When you mix with a spoon, sometimes you’re just moving chunks of things around. You want a little of everything in every bit of this mix.
Once you’re ready to make the cup, just heat up some milk. Now, I mentioned that I lived off of Swiss Milk as a kid, which only requires water. You’re certainly welcome to use water for this mix as well. Either way works fine. But I suggest milk only because gives a little more body–makes it a bit creamier. Just heat milk in a small saucepan and make sure it doesn’t boil over! Keep it on a mid- to high-simmer and and mix with a wooden spoon. That way you’re also not cooking the milk, just heating it through. Once it’s ready take about a tablespoon of the hot chocolate mix and put it in a mug. Pour in your milk or water and enjoy!
This is what’s really fun about how easy this gift is to put together. Get creative with how you want to package it! When Cam gave them to us she would put them in cute holiday baggies and tie them with a ribbon and lovely note. I’ve also seen pictures on Pinterest where people give mason jars that have the mix pre-mixed with a little holiday ribbon. That’s also a good way! Give the gift of the mix and a cup! Or go big and give them a holiday baggie of the mix, holiday mug, and some toppings!
Add some adorable personal touches as well. Attach a cinnamon stick to the bag for people to dip into their cocoa as a stirrer. Leave some room in the mason jar for a couple of marshmallows as a topping! No matter what you do, be thoughtful about it. That’s what gifts are all about–the thought, the effort, the little way of saying hey, you’re pretty cool and I like you enough to give you something I made at home. Enjoy! But you know, in your own sweet and merry words.
It hasn’t been too cold here in Texas–because it never really is. We did have snow once already, and we may again next week. But even though the days are only mildly chilly, the nights can get quite brisk. It’s the perfect scene for a bunch of chairs, a colorful fire, some great people, and a cup of this hot chocolate mix. I fully recommend you do the same! Next up for holiday themes: Gift Guides for some last-minuet shopping for the food-loving people in your life.
Hot Chocolate Mix
- 2 1/2 cups cocoa powder
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- small pinch chili powder
- 1-2 cups milk
In a large bowl, add the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chili powder. Whisk together until combined well. Set aside.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan on medium-high heat. Mix with a wooden spoon so you don't cook the milk. Bring to a boil. Simmer for at least 5 minutes.
In a mug, add 1 tbsp of the cocoa mix. Fill with heated milk or water. Mix together until the mix dissolves fully. Add marshmallows, whip cream, cinnamon stick or any other toppings or additions desired. Serve as a gift!