During the cold winter months, my favorite go-to warm beverage, besides my morning cup of coffee, is hot chocolate. And I truly believe that I have come up with the best hot chocolate recipe with cocoa ever.
I don't recall when I first began making hot chocolate with cocoa powder, but I'll tell you this: I will never again go back to a mix.
I got the idea for making homemade hot chocolate from scratch after glancing at the recipes on the side of a Hershey's cocoa powder container. I had picked up one of those gigantic versions that you get in a warehouse club. I think it took me a good year to go through it.
Nonetheless, because the container was so big, I couldn't help but notice all the recipes printed on the back and sides of the container. In addition to this warm beverage, there were ideas for lots of chocolate goodness from scratch—cake, frosting, brownies, and more.
While I tried all the recipes, it was the hot chocolate recipe with cocoa that soon became my favorite.
The original recipe called for a half cup of sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and a few other ingredients. Over time I have tweaked the recipe to make it simpler to follow—with fewer ingredients—and healthier for my family and me.
For starters I replaced the sugar with Splenda. That pretty much got rid of all the calories, except for the milk—you can't make chocolate drinks without milk, you know?
I also jettisoned the vanilla extract, which you are supposed to add at the very end and whip with a whisk to make frothy foam. Um, no thanks, too much work. I found my drink tasted just as delicious without the added vanilla.
So do you want to know how to make hot cocoa like I do? Here's what you need:
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder. (I've used both Hershey's brand and Trader Joe's. Both work well)
- 1/2 cup Splenda
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 cups milk
Makes 4 servings
Pour the cocoa powder and the Splenda in a sauce pan. Add the water. Turn the stovetop on medium heat.
Stir continuously until the mix becomes a smooth brown.
As soon as the liquid begins to boil—it happens fast, within a minute or two—add milk.
Stir to heat but don't let it boil.
Once the mixture is steaming, remove from heat and pour into mugs.
I like to add a dash of whipped cream to my mug.
At first I thought it would be too much work to make hot cocoa from scratch. I mean, putting a kettle on to boil and opening a package of pre-made hot cocoa mix was so much easier. But this recipe really is easy and, to my frugal point of view, it's more affordable.
A box of mix, with 8 envelopes in it, costs about $4.
A big bag of Splenda and a tin of cocoa powder costs about $10. With these two ingredients alone, you can probably make 50 to 75 cups of hot chocolate.
Now whenever my teenage daughters have friends over, they always ask me to make what they claim is the best hot chocolate. I'm happy to oblige.
If you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you.