With the bustling and chronically insane holiday season upon us, sometimes all I want to do is curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket (which usually involves a fight with the cat for usage rights), a book I can get lost in, and a steaming mug of hot chocolate. OK, maybe it’s more like that’s all I want to do this time of year but life always seems to get in the way of these things.
Regardless of your crazy schedules, I urge you to take a few minutes in the kitchen to whip up this homemade hot chocolate mix and treat yourself to a divine mug of it. I can guarantee that this homemade mix surpasses any of the higher quality mixes you can buy and what’s even better is that you control what goes into it.
Not a huge fan of bittersweet chocolate? Replace some or all of it, if you’re feeling adventurous, with milk chocolate. I added a few tablespoons of instant espresso powder because I love a shot of espresso in my hot chocolate but I don’t have an espresso maker at home. If you’ve made enough chocolate recipes, you’ll know that coffee in one form or another amplifies the chocolate flavor and that’s what I was going for here.
This is also the time to consider making a big batch of vanilla sugar in advance of making the mix since you can use it quickly rather than having to wait 24hrs as this recipe instructs.
The recipe makes a huge amount of homemade hot chocolate mix (almost 2 quarts, dry) and because it lasts up to 6 months, it will make the perfect addition to my Christmas gift packages this year. I love my cocoa with a heaping spoonful of whipped cream but perhaps some homemade peppermint marshmallows are in my future as well.
This recipe calls for lots and lots of chocolate but feel free to mix and match different kinds. I’m sure using some milk chocolate in the mix would make for a spectacularly delicious mug of cocoa. Also, if you can’t find Dutch-processed cocoa, try using Hershey’s Dark Cocoa. I swapped out half of the Dutch-processed for Hershey’s because I was running low on Dutch-processed and the change worked out great.
2 vanilla beans AND 4 cups granulated sugar OR 4 cups vanilla sugar
1 ½ lbs high-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
9 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa
3 tbsp instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules (optional)
Split and scrape vanilla beans and place in a large bowl or jar with the sugar. Work seeds into the sugar with your fingers and snuggle the pods under the sugar. Cover tightly and let stand overnight (or up to months–vanilla sugar keeps forever) at room temperature. If you’re using vanilla sugar, you can skip this step.
In a food processor fitted with metal blade, process semisweet and bittersweet chocolates, vanilla sugar, cocoa powder, and espresso powder (if using) until finely ground, using 4-second pulses. Process in batches, if necessary.
Store mix airtight at room temperature for up to six months.
To serve: Whisk 2 heaping tablespoons of mix with 8 oz of milk and heat until steaming over medium heat.