Homemade hot cocoa is so simple to make and so satisfying to drink. When you mix up your own you can have fun with flavorings and the intensity of the chocolate. You can also keep stuff out of it that you don't want, like preservatives and unwanted chemicals. And, it makes a wonderful holiday gift.
To get started, find a few different recipes that look good to you and gather an assortment of ingredients. Some staples you'll need include: powdered milk, unsweetened cocoa and sugar. Extras you might want to experiment with include: your favorite flavored chips, mini mashmallows, crushed candy canes, cinnamon, salt, and pudding mix (for a thicker, creamier cocoa). This is one instance where quality matters, so buy the best ingredients you can afford for the richest, most wonderful hot cocoa.
Pick a cold stormy day to hunker down with this project and be prepared to drink a lot of cocoa! Having a roaring fire going and extra tasters on hand is also helpful. Make a few of your chosen recipes and start to compare...do you like more chocolate flavor? Sweeter? Creamier? Play with your ingredients and make notes until you get it just the way you like it. Once you have a base mix, you can add in the extras to customize your own signature cocoa mix. Try some cinnamon, nutmeg or even a pinch of sea salt.
Now your'e ready to package your cocoa. I used recycled BBQ sauce jars...we went through a real BBQ phase a while back, so I ended up with a lot of these jars. The labels were impossible to remove from, so I just cut pieces of vintage wrapping paper to cover over them. Hand-stamped labels were placed on top. It was super easy and very effective.
You could also use any kind of recycled condiment jars or canning jars...they don't need to match. Just remember to sterilize them in your dishwasher or by pouring boiling water into them and letting the jars sit until the water cools.
Have fun filling your jars with layers of cocoa mix and chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, crushed candy canes or whatever you like. I didn't end up doing a lot of layering because most of my jar was covered with the paper label, but I did top my mix with these amazing chocolate curls. Not only were they pretty, they were really good chocolate.
Don't forget to put some directions for making the cocoa somewhere on the jar...people need to know how much mix to add to the milk or water. You can stamp an extra label for the back of the jar or make a cute little tag.
Now you are all ready to spread some holiday love! Combine a jar of homemade cocoa mix with a bottle of homemade peppermint schnapps or a tin of fresh cookies and your friends will be forever grateful...not to mention, impressed with your kitchen wizardry! Have you ever made your own hot cocoa? Have a favorite recipe? I'd love to hear your comments, so please feel free to share. Thanks for stoppping by and if you liked this post, check back all month for more handmade holidays... XOXO, Cindi