Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hot Chocolate....YUM!

Here it is! I haven't blogged on here for what.... 2 years?! That's just terrible (sorry, Vandy). Luckily, since I need to share Hot Chocolate recipe from Super Saturday, I have another reason to blog. I wanted to be really good about maintaining this blog, but a full time job sometimes stifles my time, creativity, desire, etc.

A few months ago I was asked to put together a craft/class for making jars of hot chocolate for Super Saturday (a day full of crafting awesomeness). You know, the kind of jars you could give as gifts. Last year I taught candy making and it was a blast and I was happy to do something again.

These jars had been used, which is why they aren't as beautiful as they would be if we were really giving them away.

 I did make the tags and the jar lid toppers myself too. Courtesy of my Silhouette Cameo, which Lyle got me for our anniversary. Best. Present. Ever. 

Also, my pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe can be found here. They tasted much better than they look, promise!

I do love hot chocolate made with chocolate (not just cocoa), but I wasn't sure how well that would work as a gift in a jar. Trying to keep the cost down, I decided to make a mix from scratch. I started with my recipe go-to, Alton Brown. I made his recipe first with Ghiradelli Cocoa Powder and thought the mix was perfect. That cocoa was definitely more expensive, so we went to Costco to explore the cheaper option. Note: this was a "sweet" ground cocoa. 
When I used this cocoa powder, which only cost about $5 in store and was by far the cheapest anywhere, the flavor changed a bit and I found that the hot chocolate wasn't as sweet as it had been when I initially made it. The flavor was fantastic (this cocoa is good), but it wasn't sweet. I like sugar and I wanted more. Hence the reason I mentioned that I needed to experiment with recipe.  

Luckily, Alton very rarely steers my wrong, so I only needed to change up the amount of powdered sugar and cocoa. If you are doing jars, like the pictures above, this recipe yields about 6.5 cups of mix. Enough to more than fill a quart size jar or a few pint size jars (especially if you save room for a layer of marshmallows, etc. in the jar). This mix will last for a few years in an air tight container (like a jar) stored in a dry dark place. You won't want to use the regular non-dehydrated mini marshmallows if you are planning on storing it for a long time. The dehydrated kind (link in recipe) will work better for that. Also, if you add things like creamer directly to the dry mix, it won't last as long on the shelf. 

Here is my recipe:

*You may want to start off with this recipe, then taste your mix and adjust it according to your taste and ingredients. My feelings won't be hurt, I promise.

Homemade Instant Hot Chocolate:

3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder (dutch processed is preferred for a richer chocolate flavor)
2 1/2 cups powdered milk (the brand of powdered milk can affect the overall taste too)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons corn starch

Add ins
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional...but very tasty)
1 cup mini marshmallows (optional....but should be required)

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix it well (you can also put everything in a ziplock bag and shake it up). Store in an air tight container. 

Making a Mug Full
When you are ready to drink it, fill your mug up between 1/3 to 1/2 full of chocolate mix, then add hot water or hot milk. Again, the amount you add will depend on your preference. Stir well and enjoy! Mugs come in all different sizes, which is why I don't measure the mix by spoonfuls. Also, obligatory warning *Hot Chocolate is HOT! Be careful, you could really burn yourself!*

How I Take My Hot Chocolate
My preferred way to drink it is to fill my cup just under half way full with the mix. Then pour in enough very hot water to almost fill the mug, leaving about an inch of space between the liquid and the top of the mug. Stir well, then fill mug the rest of the way with cold milk. It cools the hot chocolate down enough to drink it sooner and it adds more of that yummy creaminess. Or.....my super secret most favorite way.....promise you won't tell anyone? Sometimes I leave a little more room in my cup and instead of adding milk, I add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.......your welcome. :)

You may still want more sugar, or maybe you like it less sweet so you want more cocoa.... Maybe you want to add some coffee creamers for fun flavors, peppermint, or a little cinnamon? Do whatever makes you happy! 

If you have any questions or great add on suggestions, please share! 

*Lessons Learned: In one of my jars that I made for an "example," I had a layer of crushed peppermint candy. I did toss it really well with cornstarch before adding it to the jar. However, I topped it with the non-dehydrated mini marshmallows. By the time I opened the jar about 3 weeks later the candy had sucked out all of the moisture from the marshmallows and formed an awesome crust that was difficult to break through. I would definitely recommend not using those two together for a gift that may sit around for awhile. 

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