Monday, December 5, 2011

Hot Cocoa Mix

I used to drink a lot of Swiss Miss.  I know, it’s not that exciting, but coffee is out of the question for me after about 4 o’clock, and I love to wrap myself around a mug in the afternoon.  I decided a while back that I wasn’t going to buy anymore hot cocoa, I was going to make some myself.  Now that it’s getting chilly, I thought I’d actually get on that.

I did a lot of looking for both drinking chocolate (the uber-thick rich kind) and hot cocoa (like Swiss Miss).  As much as I love drinking chocolate, it sounded like something you need to make a batch of and enjoy with grown up friends, not something you can spoon out and warm up and sip on the couch while your kid runs around like a crazy person.  

Among all the hot cocoa recipes, I liked Alton Brown’s the best- it was simple, it had good ratings, and despite the disgusting marshmallows, Alton generally makes great stuff.

You will need
2 cups powdered sugar ($1.77 for 32 oz, $1.77/ 7.5 cups = $.24 x 2 = $.48)

1 cup cocoa powder ($3.00 for 8 oz, $3.00 x 2.8125 cups = $1.07)

2 ½ cups powdered milk ($3.89 for 3 cups, $3.89 x 5/6 = $3.24)

1 tsp salt ($.47 per 26 oz, $.47/ 30.69 tsp = $.02)

2 tsp corn starch ($1.49 per 171 tsp, $1.49/171 tsp = $.01 x 2 = $.02)

1 pinch cayenne pepper (less than $.01)
Hot Cocoa ingredients, ready to mix.
All shook up.
 Throw it all in a Tupperware and shake it up.  He doesn’t say so, but I would highly recommend sifting the cocoa and sugar.  I hit a couple clumps when I was drinking, and it was not pleasant.  I scooped a ½ cup of the mixture into two different mugs.  I poured hot water in one, and whole milk in the other.  The water one was very cocoa-y, and very tasty.  Then I tasted the milk one- it was rich and creamy and delicious.  I will say that once it cooled a bit it tasted a little sweet, so I may tone down the sugar next time, but milk is the way to go if you ask me.

Milk on the left, water on the right.  Both delicious!
Try It:

$4.83 per batch that makes 5.56 servings, or $.87/serving.

Buy It:

Swiss Miss is $5.49 for a 19oz canister that makes 28 servings, or $.19/serving.


Well, it was tasty, but was it 4.5 times tastier?  It’s a tough call, but I’m going to say yes.  This will be a Try It for me from now on.  The price will go down a little if I buy the larger sizes of powdered milk and cocoa, but not by much. 


  1. I think you could get around the clumps problem by a quick swirl through the food processor. Also, I wonder how much the cost would go down if you purchased everything when it went on sale.

  2. Also, I wouldn't compare to Swiss Miss which, although you had it as a child, is up there as a great Hot Chocolate. What about comparisons to Giardelli or something like that - that would make a difference.

  3. I love this, Laura! I am going to give this a try - thanks!

  4. Em, that's a great idea, but I don't have a blender or food processor in my current location! As for what I'm comparing it to, the other brand that I've had in the house that's very good is the Lake Champlain Hot Cocoa, which is $9.50 a can but I can't remember the servings per can. It's probably closer to that in cost. But in all honesty, Swiss Miss is what I would have bought if I hadn't made it, as weak and sugary as it is.

  5. Here is what I do for hot cocoa, one serving at a time: put about 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of pure dark cocoa powder (some say not to use the ones processed with alkalai) in a microwavable cup. Add enough milk to make a smooth paste. I add stevia powder or extract instead of sugar ... to whatever your sweetness level is. Add a dash of salt and a splash of vanilla extract. Whisk in enough milk to fill the cup (I use skim or 1% to watch the calories). Microwave for a minute or so, until just the right temperature.

    This is wholesome and not too inconvenient, imho. The expense comes from the type of cocoa you indulge in. Stevia can be gotten much cheaper in pure powder form and you only need maybe 1/16 of a teaspoon. The new brands are cut with something ... who knows what that is.

    Oh ... and sometimes I add some powered chicory or coffee to mix up the flavor. A dash of Brandy really is good ... with a stick of cinnamon to stir it with.

    nuff said ... off to make a cup of hot cocoa!


  6. I love it Denni! I do love the versatility of cocoa, I've definitely made it with coffee instead of water or milk, I call it a poor man's mocha.
    I made a new batch and mixed it all in the food processor as Em suggested, and it is THE WAY TO GO- no lumps, perfectly blended, and it grinds up the powdered milk nicely. Thanks Em!