chocolate milk

To me, chocolate milk has always felt excessive. Or at least redundant. Cold, plain milk, sweet and filling, was treat enough. (To be clear: I wasn’t opposed to adding chocolate. Just, then it became a dessert food, one that was best sipped hot and right before retiring to one’s bed chambers for the night.)

But then we got a cow and suddenly I needed ways to encourage milk consumption.

And then I noticed that all the dairy-minded folk I’d started following talked about making chocolate milk like it was an ordinary thing, and I was like, Wait. Why not? We dress up all our other regular food — jelly on toast, brown sugar on oatmeal, coconut cream in smoothies — so why not milk? A daily glass or two of (not-overly) chocolatey milk isn’t that terrible. Besides, raw milk is packed with nutrition, so if we’re drinking more of it, yay! 

The way these people made their chocolate milk, though, I had my doubts. They all whizzed the dry cocoa-sugar mix straight into the milk. Without first cooking the raw cocoa, wouldn’t it be grainy? So I tried it and well, yes, my instincts had been correct. The drink was good, but I wasn’t much rocking the powdery vibes. So then I tried it with confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated sugar, like other recipes called for — maybe the sugar was the problem, not the cocoa — but no. Of course not. Sugar dissolves.

And then I happened upon a New York Times recipe that called for boiling the dark cocoa, sugar, and water slurry after which more chocolate — this time unsweetened chunks — and vanilla and salt were added. 

Now this, I knew, would work.

The resulting sauce was so dark it was nearly black and so strong it almost tasted alcoholic. In the fridge, it sets up into a thick fudge. Prior to stirring it into the milk, I had to melt it a little. 

These days, I’m mixing up a half gallon of lightly chocolate-ed milk at a time for daily consumption. I first make a concentrate — a couple cups of milk in the blender with a scoop or two of chocolate sauce. Once whizzed, I pour the chocolate milk concentrate back to the big jar of milk. 

Immediately after blending, it’s pale in color and big in volume.

After it sits for a bit, it settles and darkens.

For treats, or for company, I make it extra strong, and for my husband and me, I’ve been known to whirl it up with vanilla ice cream and Bailey’s. For sipping, right before bed, mm-mm-mmm.

Chocolate Milk
Adapted from NYTimes Cooking.

I just realized the recipe says this is to be mixed with 8 cups of milk. Eight cups!! That’s some seriously rich chocolate milk! I still have some sauce left in the fridge and I bet we’ve already made close to a gallon of chocolate milk. 

¾ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
½ cup water
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Add the water and bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat, whisking steadily. Remove from heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate and vanilla. Once it’s completely smooth, pour the sauce into a jar, cool to room temp, and store in the fridge.

To make chocolate milk: using a blender (stand or hand-held) or whisk, blend the chocolate syrup into the milk, using as much, or as little, as you like.

This same time, years previous: a few good things, the quotidian (8.12.19), riding paso fino, fresh peach pie, tomato bread pudding with caramelized onions and sausage, the Murch collision of 2015, spaghetti with vodka cream tomato sauce, the quotidian (8.12.13), there’s that.


  • Thrift at Home

    Fascinating. I think it’s adorably quaint to have chocolate milk before bed, hehe. In all the old novels, they soothe themselves with hot chocolate (“cocoa”) if they wake up in the night with fears and worries, and I think that would make me even more wakeful!
    We have some chocolate milk connoisseurs around here and we make the chocolate syrup recipe in Mennonite Country-Style. Essentially a simple syrup with cocoa powder and vanilla. “Tastes like Hershey’s” says the cookbook, but we say it’s so much better. I also like the Aristocrat cocoa powder – picked that tip up from your aunt Val.

  • Libby

    A couple of days ago my mother sent an email with a chocolate milk memory and now your post! Hmmm….maybe I need to get some.

    My mother grew up on a farm for the first 13 years of her life. In the spring the cows would eat the wild onion grass and it would make the milk taste horrible. My grandmother would feed the spring milk to the pigs and mix up powdered milk. Well powdered milk in the 40’s and 50’s was horrible so none of the kids would drink it. My grandmother’s solution was to make it into chocolate milk as a treat!

  • Steve Gerber

    Here’s a beverage I’ve been enjoying lately that you might like to try. I call it cold brewed mocha.

    3 cups water,
    5 cups milk,
    1/3 cup coffee grounds,
    5 tbsp sugar,
    1 tsp cocoa powder

    I just mix this all together in a half gallon mason jar and then let is sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning I strain the coffee grounds out using a very fine mesh strainer. I mostly drink it cold with crushed ice but you could also heat a cup up if you suddenly want a hot drink. Of course, you could make it with 100% milk since you have an abundance! 🙂

    • Jennifer Jo

      I never thought of making cold brewed coffee with milk! But wouldn’t the milk somehow inhibit the coffee infusion? Yet, that’s how we infuse coffee ice cream — steeping the ground coffee in the cream. Hmmm, looking into it….

  • Elva

    I have had a more straightforward method for the past 25 years or so….I buy dark chocolate morsels (like the kind you make chocolate chip cookies with) and store them in the fridge or freezer. Then I always keep a drinking glass in the freezer. Next, I just fill up that glass multiple times a day with very cold raw milk from my cow and eat a pile of morsels with it! This is always my early morning startup routine (I don’t drink tea or coffee), and it provides energy and healthy enzymes and vitamins from the milk.

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