Nothing beats a perfect hot chocolate…thick, creamy, with a slight bite of real cocoa…today, just for today make hot chocolate from scratch.
Make Hot Chocolate from Scratch
Making hot chocolate from scratch doesn’t take much longer than boiling a pot of water and pouring it over one of those envelopes of instant hot cocoa. But the taste! The taste! Hot cocoa made from scratch has a silky finish, a rough bitter bite of cocoa, and a delicious sweetness to it that warms you from your head to your toes. It conjures images of sleighing down snowy hills, snowmen and snow forts, Christmas morning and long February walks by frozen fields. It’s the quintessential winter drink, and one you can easily make from scratch in your own kitchen.
All you need are four ingredients:
- Unsweetened cocoa powder (I prefer Hershey’s)
- Vanilla extract
And that’s it.
Some people add a peppermint candy cane. Grownups recommended all sorts of interesting additives: peppermint schnaps, amaretto, Bailey’s liquor. As for me, I’m a purist. I prefer my hot cocoa straight and with extra cocoa powder.
To make hot cocoa from scratch, pour the milk into the mug you intend to use. This way you won’t have any extra. Or, just pour one or two cups of milk into a saucepan. This way, you will have extra.
Heat the milk gently on the stove in a saucepan and stir in one to two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa. Then, add one tablespoon of sugar for every tablespoon of cocoa you mix in, and a quarter of a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Stir until everything dissolves and taste it. Too bitter? Add a pinch more sugar. Too sweet, not enough chocolate flavor? Add a pinch more cocoa powder.
When it’s hot but not boiling, turn off the heat and pour into mugs. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows as desired. Sip by an open fire, with or without the one you love, and with or without cookies. It’s all good when it comes to hot cocoa.
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.