Twice a year I mix up huge batches of hot cocoa mix. I've been doing it since I was a teenager. It's become a tradition at our house. I make a huge batch in early fall, then another huge batch in January when the first batch typically runs out.
I've made it plenty of ways, but this recipe is one of my favourites. I'm one of those people who love using milk to make hot cocoa, or hot chocolate. I'm not a big fan of using water. It just doesn't taste rich enough for me. So this recipe is tailored for milk users.
You can still use this if you're someone who digs using water to make their hot cocoa, or even coconut milk. It will work well with any type of liquid. I just think it works best with milk, in my humble opinion. Add a hint of booze to your milk and it's even better.
I've always been a huge hot cocoa fan. It's probably from growing up in Canada. Our winters are rough, fall and spring can be chilly too. So we drink a lot of hot beverages to warm us up after being out in the cold so much. Hot cocoa is perfect for that.
My mom used to make it for us when we were young. We would go sledding all day long and come home freezing cold. Mom would make us hug mugs of cocoa to help us warm up. We had a wood burning fireplace in the basement, so we'd all curl up there to sip our drinks.
When I was a teenager I actually worked the night shift quite regularly at a local store. People would come in after hitting the bars, others would stop in on the way to work. In an effort to stay awake all night, I drank copious amounts of hot cocoa. Huge amounts of it.
The store had a machine for hot chocolate. That's when you know you live in a cold climate. The machine used water, but I found ways to jazz the hot chocolate up. I would add all kinds of stuff to my drink to make it go from good to great. Every night was a new flavour.
I started making suggestions to regulars who came in for hot chocolate. I had them adding different kinds of milk, dollops of heavy cream and whipped cream, and even tossing different kinds of chocolate inside their hot chocolate. The regular customers really got into it.
As time moved on I started making hot cocoa for my own kids. We tend to call it hot chocolate, but either name works perfectly. My kids love it and we're always playing around with new ideas. The key to all of it is starting with a great quality hot cocoa mix. That's the secret to success.
Play around with the recipe until you get it just right for your own taste buds. Some people like theirs sweeter, some like theirs more bitter. However you like your hot cocoa mix, be sure to add an extra spoonful in every cup. Never be stingy with hot cocoa. Be a giver. Always.
Recipe inspired by Alton Brown's Hot Cocoa Mix (if you only use water for mixing hot cocoa I highly suggest trying Alton's recipe. He uses powdered milk to his recipe which works really well for mixing a perfect hot cocoa with water!)