Time for another edible gift idea: hot cocoa mix. Now, I know you’re thinking, “Hot cocoa mix? Been there, done that! Next!” That’s kind of how I felt about it until I saw a picture of the mix that my friend Shelly made as part of the favors for her baby’s christening party. She packaged the mix in disposable decorating bags with mini marshmallows on top. They were so cute that I immediately asked her for the recipe. She provided not only the original recipe (from Brown Eyed Baker), but also her notes on how she adapted it. Turns out, this mix makes the creamiest, most decadent hot chocolate ever (even when made with skim milk). I’m planning to put this in Jack’s preschool teachers’ gift baskets, along with a mug (and some other things I’ll be writing about). Thanks, Shelly!
Hot Cocoa Mix (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe)
Makes 20 servings; can be stored up to three months
- 3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
- 2.5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar (I ended up using a little less than 1/2 cup, and it was plenty sweet)
- 1½ cups cocoa powder (Dutch-processed* preferred, but regular okay)
- 1½ cups white chocolate chips (or chopped white chocolate)**
- ¼ teaspoon salt
*You can find Dutch-processed cocoa powder at Whole Foods, Penzey’s Spices, and sometimes at the regular grocery store. If you can’t find Dutch-processed, pick up unsweetened cocoa powder.
**I used white chocolate chips. If you don’t have a blender or food processor (or if your food processor is the small kind), you might want to just skip the white chocolate altogether and use the full cup of granulated sugar instead. The white chocolate adds creaminess, but the nonfat milk powder does too, so I think the mix would still be good without it. Maybe not perfect, but still delicious!
Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl. Working in two or three batches, pulse the ingredients in a food processor or blender (I used my blender, blending in three batches, and it worked really well) until the white chocolate is finely ground. Store in an airtight container (like a gallon Ziploc bag) for up to 3 months.
To make hot cocoa, put 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix in a mug and stir in one cup of hot milk (or, heat one cup of milk in a saucepan and whisk in the mix to dissolve). Top with whipped cream or miniature marshmallows.
To package the mix as a gift, you’ll need mini marshmallows, twisty ties or rubber bands, labels or tags, ribbon, and disposable decorating bags (the kind used to pipe icing onto cakes and cookies), sold at Michael’s or in the baking aisle at the grocery store. You’ll use two bags per gift.
First, make your labels or tags. I bought sheets of adhesive labels at Michael’s, downloaded and filled out the template at home, then printed them. It took all of five minutes. You could also easily handwrite the labels or tags, though. The instructions are simple: dissolve the mix into one cup of hot milk.
Yes, that’s right — I said chocolate spoons.
After making your labels, it’s time to package up the mix. Scoop 1/3 cup of the mix and put it into a bag, coaxing the mix down into the tip. Twist the top and close with a twisty tie or rubber band, making sure there’s no air above the mix. Cut off the excess bag on top of the tie or rubber band. Then, slip the bagged mix into another decorating bag, and drop in a handful of mini marshmallows. Try to conceal the little bit of extra mix bag with the marshmallows. Tie a ribbon around the opening and affix your label. Done!
These make an excellent stocking stuffer, gifts for neighbors, addition to a gift basket, etc. Originally, I thought 20 servings was a lot, but now that I’ve had some of this, I’m thinking I’ll need to make another batch just for us to keep on hand. Plus, if you’re making this for someone who has a spouse or kids, you need to give them at least two bags each, so it goes pretty quickly. Enjoy!