We’re in New England. Hot Chocolate is an absolute “must” for us. And with four kids, I go through a lot of it. The only trouble is, because we grow nearly all of our food here (with the exception of those staples like flour and sugar, etc.), I don’t actually go to a store all that often. In fact, I hardly ever do even for those things; I actually order most of my staples online from WalMart.com. I know we all have a love-hate relationship with Wal Mart but let’s face it – their prices beat almost everyone else, they employ large numbers of Americans, and if you spend $50 you get free shipping – so my staples cost me no more than a trip to the store; probably less considering the time I don’t lose and the gas I don’t burn.
But I digress. The short story is that I always seem to be out of hot cocoa mix. And then there is the added issue that I am buying something with unnecessary ingredients like dry milk, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavors, amongst other things that you personally may or may not be concerned with (for an example of what you’ll find in a leading brand hot cocoa mix like Swiss Miss, check this out).
And then there is the issue that I have this abundance of milk from those over-achieving little backyard Jerseys. An awful problem to have, I know. At any rate, it seems silly to me to be paying for a product with dry milk in it, which I’m not overly thrilled about, and wasting the perfectly good, healthy that milk I need to do something with anyway. And so I decided to go old-school and find an easy homemade hot chocolate recipe that is made with milk and minimal extraneous ingredients. After tweaking a few, below is what I came up with. It’s great for homesteaders, but of course it’s great for anyone who is just looking for a simplified homemade hot cocoa recipe. It uses only a couple common pantry staples, so odds are excellent that you already have everything you need at home.
Homemade Homestead Hot Cocoa Recipe
What we’re basically looking at here is a 2:1 ratio of powdered sugar to baking cocoa (powder). Using this basic ratio, you can make up your hot chocolate mix ahead of time in as large or small a quantity as you want for easy make-ahead use (a great recipe to add to your Make-Ahead Mix arsenal!).
The following recipe is enough to make a prepared half-gallon batch of homemade hot chocolate with milk. But what I like to do is crack out a quart or half-gallon mason jar and just keep alternating and filling until I have a jar full of mix ready for later use.
- 2 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar
- 1 cup powdered baking cocoa
- ½ gallon milk
- Pour milk into a large saucepan. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Heat and stir over medium heat until steaming. Do not boil!
- *You may also prepare this in a crock pot (on high or low, but obviously low will take longer and do keep an eye on it so that it does not boil when on high) and keep warm on the "Warm" setting.
- **You may also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract if desired.
Make-Ahead Creamy Homestead Hot Cocoa Mix
If you want to make a prepared make-ahead homemade hot cocoa mix, simply combine 6 cups of powdered sugar and 3 cups of powdered baking cocoa in a large (2 quart) canning jar or large container (yes, it will fit, but you may have to shake gently as you add ingredients to settle them). Shake to combine through until the mixture appears evenly distributed throughout.
This recipe will make 2 quarts of mix, which stores nicely in Ball Half Gallon Mason Jars.
Alternatively, if you are giving as a gift and you like the “sand art” appearance of the layers, alternate the cocoa and the powdered sugar, but do not shake. Do be sure, though, to include shaking as the first step in any attached instructions you give. You can cut the recipe in half to prepare in one-quart canning jars.
To prepare hot chocolate by the cup from the prepared mix, add 2 to 3 large teaspoons cocoa mix to a cup of hot milk. To make a batch, use 3 cups mix to each 1/2 gallon hot milk.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, and it brings you many warm winter mornings and afternoons! Incidentally, this is an excellent recipe to use with any of the grown-up hot chocolate recipes in A Drink for All Seasons: Winter and the Holidays.