hot chocolate mix

I have a problem. Whenever I come across a great recipe, video, product, concept, etc, I get all excited and want to write about my discovery but then I’m like, Nah, everyone knows about it already. Because if I know about it, then surely everyone else does, too.

I’m not sure if this problem is unique to me or if everyone deals with it (oops, here we go again. I told you it’s a problem). Maybe it harkens back to my TV-less childhood in which I never knew what was going on (and didn’t really care). I just learned to (correctly) assume that everyone knew things before I did. I was cool with that.

But now, as A Possessor of the Internet, I find myself discovering interesting things in real time. And as a blogger, I have the means to share. Except everyone is A Possessor of the Internet—because that’s how they access my blog, see?—and so there’s a very real probability that no one needs me to share anything because they already know everything.

And so I discover Things Most Marvelous, rave to the people around me, take photos, and then do nothing. Because what’s the point? Also, I reason, if I wait an extra week or two to share my find, maybe everyone will have forgotten that particular Thing Most Marvelous and it will seem new and fresh. And then everyone will be like, Ooo, she is SO on top of things!


All that to say, I made Deb’s hot chocolate and it is the best hot chocolate mix ever.

There. Did you already know that? This is not a rhetorical question! I seriously want to know how many of you: 1) knew about Deb’s hot chocolate mix, and 2) made it and loved it. Tell me! Tell me! This is an experiment in sociocultural psychology! (Or something.)

Anyway. About the hot chocolate. I am quite picky about my hot chocolate. I can’t stand it when instructions say to mix together sugar and cocoa and then add hot milk. This is wrong. The cocoa turns out gritty. Don’t do it. To skip the cocoa grit, proper hot chocolate must be made like so:

*combine the cocoa and sugar in a saucepan
*add a bit of water to make a slurry
*BOIL (this is what dissolves the grit and makes everything creamy-lush)
*add milk and heat through
*before serving, add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of vanilla

And don’t even get me going on powdered milk mixes—i.e. cocoa and sugar with Whiff of Barnyard—or, heaven forbid, the packaged junk.

But Deb’s mix breaks all rules. She uses cocoa and sugar, yes, but she also adds cornstarch and chopped chocolate. I thought for sure it’d be gritty, but it wasn’t! Well—full confession—there is a slight, ever so slight, sandiness to it, but it’s due more to the ridiculous chocolatey thickness of the drink and less to the non-dissolved cocoa. At least that’s what I think.

Perhaps it helps that the dry ingredients are pulverized in a food processor. Or maybe it’s the addition of cornstarch (which is brilliant because cornstarch). Or it’s the real, melted chocolate that smooths things over. Whatever the case, it works. It’s like drinking molten chocolate: intense, thick, rich, delicious. Willy Wonka would be proud.

(It’s a little too good, maybe. Ever since I discovered this mix, I spend most of my days just waiting till I can have my bedtime cocoa.)

Hot Chocolate Mix
Adapted from Deb of Smitten Kitchen.

½ cup cocoa
½ cup sugar
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the chocolate chips are indistinguishable (though I let my processor run for a good minute or two and I still had a few itty-bitty chunks). Store the mixture in a pint jar.

To make hot chocolate:
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons hot chocolate mix
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
marshmallows or whipped cream, optional (but not really)

Heat the milk in a small saucepan. When the milk is steamy-hot, add the mix. Whisk well for a minute or two. (If the milk boils, remove the pan from the heat.) Add the vanilla. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug and top with marshmallows or whipped cream.

Marshmallow trick: tear your marshmallows into fourths. This way, instead of sip-wrestling with two giant marshmallow blobs, you get an easy-to-manage, foamy, evenly-dispersed marshmallow cap. Such an improvement.

This same time, years previous: stuffing, constant vigilance!, sunrise, sunset, light painting, my elephant, the quotidian (12.12.11), cracked wheat (or cooked oatmeal) pancakes, Sunday vignettes: human anatomy, and iced gingerbread men.    


  • Amy in Oregon

    For anyone who was interested in crock pot cocoa
    2 cups heavy cream
    1 can sweet condensed milk
    8-10 cups milk (depending on how sweet and chocolatey you like it.)
    2 teaspoon vanilla
    2cups chocolate chips.
    Crock pot low for 2 hours stirring often.
    Serve with homemade marshmallows or fresh whipped cream

  • Aleksandra

    I did know about it, but I can't stand sweet drinks, so did not go for it.
    (I do drink unsweetened cocoa powder with milk sometimes, though – as mentioned by someone above – and love it!)

    And although this was no news to me, I do find out about plenty of Internet things here, so please keep posting 🙂

  • Rebecca

    Jennifer, I'll be sure to try this but first I must thank you for giving voice to the pain we 70's/80's kids suffered at the hands of powdered milk. (I'm looking at YOU, More-with-Less.) "Whiff of Barnyard"? Genius.

    My mom's (bless her heart) instant hot chocolate contained not only w.o.b. but coffee creamer for an extra dose of awesomeness. I haven't touched instant hot chocolate since approximately 1989. I'll break my run on your say-so.

  • Amy in Oregon

    Our family loves crock pot hot cocoa!! Make one big batch, then reheat any leftovers (if there are any) It is truly amazing and super easy. Throw all ingredients in crock and cook on low for 2hours. I can post in comments if anyone is interested.

  • mommychef

    I knew about it and, as much as I love Deb, wanted someone else to vouch for the recipe before I gave up my way (which is also your old way)…thanks for trying it out. Now I will too. As someone raised on powdered milk (in a city! with a milkman! in the 20th century! why?) "barnyard whiff" is exactly the description that my twelve year old self was looking for but could not come up with when I swore off "milk" for good until I moved out.

  • Margo

    Such an interesting view into your brain! I don't post recipes because I think no one has heard about them (because internet) but because I am trying to keep track of what I do in the kitchen. Can't tell you how often I've researched my own blog for an almost-forgotten recipe. . .

    I came across a hot chocolate similar to Deb's in 2009 and blogged it:

    Why did I stop making this? I have no idea because it is delicious and fast. Nowadays, I do the sugar/cocoa/water paste in the bottom of a mug in the microwave and make it that way. Which means my kids don't get hot chocolate very often. I also was adding a generous pinch of flour which means I am almost as brilliant as Deb, right? But cornstarch is better here, duh. OOOOOH, maybe I will make this hot chocolate mix for Christmas presents!! I think I even did that a few years ago and forgot until this post! To me, this is the usefulness of the blogosphere – the collective memory and inspiration 🙂

  • Lauralli

    I know about Deb, but not her hot chocolate mix! I will most definitely be trying it! Thanks! I grew up on my Dad's version (who actually got it from his mom who I never knew). Cocoa and sugar ground together with the back of a spoon in a pot–and I mean ground together almost to the point of powdered sugar. Took some work! Then, heated with canned evaporated milk and almost equal parts water. The evaporated milk makes it! Try it some time.

  • Zoë

    How come I don't find the powdered milk/cocoa version to be gritty?

    I use a slightly altered (read: less sugar) version of Alton Brown's recipe. We love it. It uses powdered sugar, powdered milk, cocoa, a bit of salt, and cornstarch.

    Also, homemade marshmallows (cut in small pieces like you do the bought ones) are WAAAYYY better. Just sayin'.

    • Margo

      Zoe, I want to make homemade marshmallows but that Martha Stewart recipe you referred to says they only last 3 days. WHAT?! There's no way we can eat that amount of marshmallows in that time. Please tell me they last longer or I can freeze them or something. . . ?

    • Zoë

      Well it's been 3 days and they are just fine in an airtight container on the counter. We've eaten about half of them. They are ever-so-slightly dry at the edges but are still quite delicious. I think they'd last at least a week. Not sure about freezing. Seems to me they'd get watery or something. Maybe vacuum seal them? My machine is broken so I can't try it.

  • katie

    Hey, I don't use the internet for much other than 1) my email 2) your thoughts and 3) running news (which is decidedly absent from your site.) So anything you post is internet news to me. Including Deb's hot chocolate mix. Sounds decadent. Hot chocolate is more of an everyday, kids are up but the fire in the woodstove is not quite yet, so let's have something to warm them up, sort of drink around here. Not sure this mix is appropriate for that purpose. Also, to make this long comment even longer, my husband was in Chile for work last winter and he discovered that they truly drink hot cocoa — like, cocoa powder in hot milk! If you order it in a coffee shop that is what you get, with sugar served alongside to sweeten to taste. Try it sometime! Unsweetened hot cocoa. If you aren't expecting it to be sweet, it is surprisingly wonderful. (We make it your way, at your advice, with the bit of water first to dissolve the cocoa.)

    • Jennifer Jo

      "running news (which is decidedly absent from your site.)" SNORT.

      Did they add hot chili to the drink? Somehow unsweetened cocoa sounds … painful.

    • katie

      I know it sounds, and tastes startleingly different, but not unpleasant. Do you ever just not want to drink sweet hot beverages?

      Sorry, no insult at all intended with the running news comment. Really, very few people in the world are interested in the sort of running news that interests me. We are a small, but very dedicated niche. Those on the outside should consider themselves lucky.

    • Jennifer Jo

      That was NOT an offended snort. It was an oh-you-don't-say-ha-ha snort. My running has come to a screeching halt now that it's cold. I'm a wimp.

      If I don't want a sweet hot beverage (and most times I don't), I drink coffee or tea.

  • Melissa @ thelittlegrayhouse

    I did know, but I am glad you tested it out first. Truly I think I was too lazy to try it. Now I might give it a whirl. Also, love your food processor, it is the same one my mom had that I nearly burnt up one year when I borrowed it to make peanut butter. She has since replaced it I think, but that thing would go and go!

  • katherine

    I knew about Deb's recipe, as well as the original in Cook's Illustrated. And I ALMOST made the mix, until my husband said, "Seriously? You're going to spend your time making something that could just be bought at the grocery story?" And I caved. Not because I didn't think the mix would be worth it, but 1) because I knew his comment was mostly code for "You're going to cook another thing and make me wash the dishes?" (because he does wash the dishes, which I appreciate & don't want to take too much advantage of), and 2) because I have a 3 month old and am willing to admit that I should be very selective right now about how I use my non-baby time.

    Regardless of knowing about the recipe, I still enjoyed hearing your take on it. 🙂

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