decadent hot chocolate mix

Here is how I’ve made hot chocolate for most of my life: heat some milk in a saucepan, add a bit of unsweetened cocoa and sugar and whisk. Form lumps. Be unable to break up lumps. Get frustrated, try again, this time slowly slowly slowly whisking milk into cocoa and sugar, hoping to form something of a cocoa roux. Heat mixture until steamy and drink merrily, trying to ignore faint background of chalkiness. Hooray for cocoa?

what you'll need, except maybe not marshmallows
grind it up and you're done

Until this week, that is. This week, I saw a recipe for a homemade hot chocolate mix in this month’s Cook’s Illustrated that had my undivided attention because it wasn’t just cocoa and sugar but ground chocolate and vanilla and salt and and and… I mean, how bad could it be? What was the worst that could happen — we’d have to warm up with several cups of hot cocoa in a single week in the name of recipe testing? I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: sometimes, this job is the worst.

homemade hot chocolate

your label will be cuter

Shockingly, because given that the source is basically perfect, it wasn’t for me. Even more surprising, because I love bittersweet chocolate so much, I actually found it too bitter. But this just gave me the excuse to make more. I nixed the milk powder because I’m rather eh on it, especially when a) there’s real milk around or b) it would keep the recipe dairy-free so you could instead use steamed coconut, almond or soy milk. I switched out the unsweetened chocolate for semisweet/bittersweet, reduced the salt and vanilla a little and bumped up the cornstarch ever-so-slightly to encourage the mixture to dissolve perfectly, even without the powdered milk.

fixings of choice

And then, well, I probably should pretend this heaping pile of miniature marshmallows was for the kindergartener. Because only a kindergartener would so shamelessly use a cup of decadent, gloriously rich hot cocoa as a vehicle for marshmallow consumption, right? I really should. But we all know the truth. Kindergarteners are at kindergarten during the day, giving adults an excuse to not act their age for a while. I regret nothing.

let's pretend this one was for the kid

On Pinterest: Want a little visual guide to all 70 cookies in the Smitten Kitchen archives? How about some homemade food gifts? It’s beginning to look a lot like December over there, come see!

Facebook Notifications: Are you only sometimes finding out through Facebook when there is a new recipe here? Here’s how you can make sure you don’t miss a single one: once you’ve liked the smitten kitchen page (thank you!) you can use the dropdown menu right under the “liked” button to select “get notifications.” This lets Facebook know going forward that they shouldn’t dare get between you and your marshmallow-studded hot chocolate.

One year ago: Sugared Pretzel Cookies
Two years ago: Cauliflower-Feta Fritters with Pomegranate
Three years ago: Nutmeg Maple Butter Cookies
Four years ago: Roasted Chestnut Cookies
Five years ago: Cream Biscuits
Six years ago: Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust and Veselka’s Cabbage Soup
Seven years ago: Rugelach Pinwheels, Fennel Ice Cream and a Ratatouille Tart
Eight years ago: Fettucine with Porcini, Potato Salad with Sherry-Mustard Vinaigrette and Salted Chocolate Caramels

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Coconut Brown Butter Cookies
1.5 Years Ago: Rhubarb Cream Cheese Handpies
2.5 Years Ago: Strawberries and Cream Biscuits
3.5 Years Ago: Roasted Red Peppers with Capers and Mozzarella

Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix
Adapted a little from Cook’s Illustrated

This is the ideal homemade December gift to pack up for friends and family, if I do say so myself. It’s both rich and deeply chocolaty, without being excessively sweet. Add some homemade springy fluffy marshmallows or the my new favorite thing to dunk in hot chocolate (next up!) if you want to do it up further.

Yield: Just under 1 3/4 cups mix, enough for 9 cups; packs up well in a 2-cup jar
Prep time: Seriously like 10 minutes

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
3 ounces (85 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (40 grams) cocoa powder, any kind you like
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from a tiny segment of fresh vanilla bean
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until powdery. Don’t have a food processor? Chop or grate the chocolate until it is as fine as you can get it, and stir it into the remaining ingredients. Mixture keeps in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.

To use: Heat one cup of milk (coconut, almond or others would work here too) in a saucepan over medium heat until steamy. Add 3 tablespoons hot cocoa mix. Whisk over heat for another minute or two, until it begins to simmer and mix is completely dissolved. Pour into mug, top with mini-marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream and hide somewhere nobody will make you share give it to someone you love.

Other flavors: CI walks you through how to make variations including Mexican Hot Chocolate (with some chile powder, cayenne and cinnamon), Mint Hot Chocolate (with mint extract instead of vanilla), Mocha Hot Chocolate (with a couple tablespoons of espresso powder) and usually I’d say “have fun with it!” I mean, you can and should. But I have to admit to being a bit of a traditionalist with my cocoa, and would take the pure chocolate flavor of the above recipe over anything that would clutter my tastebuds. Then again, maybe you shouldn’t listen to someone who needs a minimum of two dozen mini-marshmallows on a single cup of hot chocolate?

Packaging ideas: Had I more time, I might have picked up some charming Weck Juice Jars or Tulip Jars (.5 liter size, which will give you some space at the top — perfect for a handful of marshmallows?), either of which can be used later for pickling or storage. I used Mason jar-ish mugs with lids (1, 2), which could be used later for hot chocolate consumption. You could tie a a tablespoon measure on as well with ribbon, to make their end of the work even easier.

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387 comments on decadent hot chocolate mix

  1. I don’t know what I’m doing that it’s December 4 and I haven’t made hot chocolate yet this year. This weekend — (1) getting a tree and (2) making this hot chocolate with extra extra marshmallows!!

  2. Anie

    this is fabulous! Can’t wait to try it and so happy you made the changes you did. I’ve never bee sure why the unsweetened cocoa was called for either. It’s like starting a recipe with an olive and expecting it to turn out sweet! And that powdered milk? It never mixes in! Always lumpy! And now I have my teacher gift idea!

  3. Gail

    Looks heavenly! Marshmallows, of course. The cute label looks like it says “3 t.” but the recipe says 3 tablespoons. Or does it really matter since you can just add as much as tastes good? Thanks for a great present idea.

  4. Laura

    fwiw, I came up with an alternative way to avoid the lumps of cocoa/chalky thing.
    Basically, while the milk is coming up to temperature, I put my sugar and cocoa in a dish, and then add the tiniest amount of boiling (or otherwise pretty hot) water to it. stirring with a fork to make a paste. Too much water, and you’re back to lumps and annoyance. Not enough and it doesn’t mix. So you just add a (very) little at a time, mixing with a fork and crushing any grainy bits against the side of the dish until you get a uniform chocolate paste. It’s really a lot like ganache, and smells wonderful. Put _that_ mixture into the steaming milk and whisk. Tada! No lumps.

  5. Meg

    I use a modified version of this recipe (halve the sugar and use an equal amount of good cocoa), mostly because I didn’t want to deal with hand chopping chocolate:

    Any idea how to modify this for white hot chocolate? I assume you’d cut the sugar, because white chocolate is very sweet as is, but what to use in place of cocoa powder…

  6. al

    wow, I googled “smitten kitchen hot cocoa mix” last night because I looked at a few recipes and wondered if you had any on the site since your recipes are the bomb. talk about perfect timing! I cannot wait to make this. woohoo

    1. Abigail

      How did I not know about coconut cream powder?? Can it replaced powdered milk or cornstarch in most recipes? *buys and starts experimenting*

  7. Your timing is impeccable – I have the necessities on hand, and after a long cold hike with the dog in our lovely -20 C Northern Ontario weather this evening, I planned hot cocoa for warming us up. Thanks!

  8. Nicole

    Yum! This looks like the perfect gift for me to give this year. For myself, I will definitely make it on the stove, but I wondered if you thought there was a way to make it in the microwave? Some of my family/friends may not be want to fuss with a pot on the stove. Thanks!

  9. Rebecca

    That looks like the most amazing cocoa ever! Right on cue for my seasonal cocoa binge too. Also: I have exactly those same little glass mug/cups with the metal handles. it’s fate. must make.

  10. How funny, my boss just pulled me into her office to show me a video her niece made on her mom’s camera: It was of her showing off her loose tooth and singing a little ditty about it. I don’t think I want to know what the NYC Tooth Fairy is expected to leave under pillows. My tooth fairy was pretty cool and did things like leave crayons and coloring books in exchange for the goods.

  11. Put 1-2 tsp och cocoa in a mug. Add a little hot/boiling water, stir to dissolve. Add milk/fluid of choice (stop sniggering at the back) to top up, heat in microwave. Add desired amount of sugar to hot mug of what is atm a rather Aztec concoction, stir.

    This works just grand. :) Perhaps not decadent, but the easiest way ever. If you think the water waters it down too much, put a slug of cream in it. Ta-da!

  12. What I’ve always done about lumps and mixing is similar to what Laura suggested. I put the powders in a mug and then a couple of teaspoon’s worth of milk (cold is fine). It will take a good bit of stirring but after a while you’ll basically end up with a thick chocolate syrup. (Don’t give up on the stirring too soon!) At first it’ll look like a ball of mercury rolling around in chocolate powder but eventually all the powder will be picked up. Then just add the heated milk and you’re ready to go. Works like a charm and it gives the kids something to do while they wait (although mine are now long grown). It also shows them that cooking is both chemistry and a process, and not just magic or something that dad does, as you can see the powder and liquid slowly change state and merge over time. And besides, you end up with hot chocolate afterwards! Can’t be beat.

  13. Sarah Morford

    This looks amazing! Definitely making these. When you say “any kind of cocoa” – I have some dutch process cocoa from Penzey’s that I’ve never quite found a use for — would that work? I’m always confused by the differences in all of the powdered cocoas but I feel you know how to distinguish them all! If that won’t work, what brand did you use? Thanks in advance.

  14. Hannah

    Love the “seriously like 10 minutes.” Your timing, as usual, is perfect, as I was asking myself just yesterday what food gift (since you can almost never go wrong with food gifts) would ship well from North Carolina to friends in San Francisco. I think this will be great!

  15. Lauren

    You could SO easily have blamed the” loaded w/ marshmallow” cup on the loose tooth! He never would have read the post would he? I take that back…he probably is right on the cusp of doing THAT too. Good parenting to admit to “foibles” keep it up, it seems to be working. On that note I will make myself a big ol’ cup of cocoa, and thank my lucky stars my kids are grown ( not ’cause parenting is tough- tho it is, but ’cause that means more for me!) Yum.

  16. Erin in PA

    Yum!! I even have jars that I bought a few years ago because the price was too good to not purchase. Teacher gifts and “gifts on hand” are done! I love he homemade marshmallow idea too. I enjoy making those, but no one else likes a pan of marshmallows the way that I do, so it’s nice to share them with others.

  17. Hi Deb!

    I’m wondering – do you think one could microwave this? I’d love to bring it into my office.

    By the way, I met you at The Greene Space event with Leonard Lopate and Melissa Clark. You told me to show you my link, so here it is – still a work in progress and I’m working on buying a domain name, but basically this is it!

    Thanks for sharing such great recipes!

  18. Laceflower

    When I read the Cooks Illustrated recipe and got to the powdered milk, I just turned the page. Yours however, I will have to try. Thanks

  19. Rachel

    I have an even more embarrassing marshmallow confession… I have a serious love of those weird little dehydrated marshmallows that come in Swiss Miss. I know, right?!

    Maybe a silly question, but does adding the teeny bit of liquid in the form of vanilla cause any problems when making just the dry powder mix to wrap up as a gift? I LOVE those mug jars (jar mugs?) as a gift idea! So awesome!!

  20. This is probably a stupid question, but doesn’t the vanilla extract make everything kind of… wet? Is there powdered vanilla that I’m ignorant of, or are you using the vanilla BEANS pictured and not extract at all? Help!

  21. Jen

    I saw that recipe this month and keep meaning to try it out. Glad you beat me to it! I’ll have to test both and see which we prefer…all in the name of science, of course. Thanks!

  22. Daisy

    oh my gosh, I totally made a cocoa mix as part of my wedding favor (packaged it in a cellophane bag in a printed mug)! Our recipe was delicious, but more time consuming to make, and included the milk powder. Yours looks so much easier, plus I’ve never had a smittenkitchen recipe fail me yet. Looks like I got married a year too early!

  23. Mischelle

    I make tons of cocoa mix for gifts and family consumption, and I found my new best friend – NIDO powdered milk – it’s full fat, so the cocoa is creamier. You can find it in the Latin section at your grocery store, but expect to make a lot because the can is huge! And the secret to no lumps is just letting it whir around in the food processor until the bits break down to the consistency of commercial brands. A pinch of cayenne pepper in the mix gives it a nice finish, too.

  24. Lisa

    Thanks so much! I had the CI recipe ear marked to use to make gifts but will use this instead! Sounds perfect. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  25. Mischelle

    Oh! And you are not alone in your marshmallow obsession. I swear my husband merely uses hot cocoa as a vehicle for consuming massive amounts of the fluffy treats!

  26. Amelia

    I just pour hot milk over chocolate chips. Stir and drink! If not chocolate enough — add chocolate. If too chocolate — add milk.

  27. Teresa

    Any reason why one couldn’t skip most of the steps and just stir finely chopped/ground semisweet chocolate into simmering milk? Sounds like the other ingredients are added to balance each other out (e.g., sugar for cocoa powder), so why bother? ;-)

  28. Love it!

    I’ll use vanilla seeds and substitute the marshmallows for a splash of rum. The best combination for a festive/decadent night time hot chocolate ;)

  29. Your timing is impeccable, as always. I’m planning a holiday party for next weekend and was going to make my tried-and-true mix from Alton Brown but this looks worth amazing. Any suggestions on how to make/keep this for a crowd? Mix it up and keep it warm in an insulated carafe? Keep a pot on low on the stove and let people ladle at their leisure?

    (Also, a huge thank you for the suggestions you gave a month or so about Paris. I did not have a bad bite of food the entire four days, ate twice at Breizh–did you know they have a cookbook?–and my suitcase was basically half food on the way back thanks to G. Detou (including, of course, 6.5 pounds of valrhona chocolate). I started writing about the places I ate and shopped at here if you’re interested, more to come soon!)

  30. This looks to die for! I’ve been craving hot chocolate (and recently made a hot cocoa bar for friends in our latest holiday party). Might have to try this!


  31. Adrianne

    Oh, yes, December is looking delicious! I love hot chocolate, and between this and Girl Scout Cookies online ordering, I’ll be plump come New Years.

  32. george

    After tasting hot chocolate at Angelina’s in Paris I gave up trying to make my own.Yours sounds delightful though so, I will try it.

  33. I’ve found that making a slurry with the cocoa powder and a small amount of liquid–like when adding cornstarch to thicken a sauce–usually helps with the lumps (doesn’t quite totally eliminate them). I’ve also gone to straight up melted chocolate mixed into hot milk, like making a thin ganache, which is delicious and lump-free but super rich. I like the idea of a combination of the two.

    So now I add this to my list of hot beverages to make, along with Lady and Pups Salted Caramel Creamed Walnut.

  34. Rebecca

    Bless you! I confess to using commercial just-add-water hot chocolate mixes, but want to avoid dairy. You have made it possible!

    Also, I have been wondering about decorative jars. Time to peruse WeckJars!

  35. deb

    Rupi, Lisa — I used Dutch process because it’s my favorite, but any kind will do here.

    Mary — I know! That looked so amazing. Plus, I think walnuts are underrated and underused.

    Christina — Glad you had a great trip. I haven’t been in EONS and I’m relieve my suggestions are still good ones. I think a large pot would be awesome but I think you’ll want people to give it a stir before lading. Chocolate likes to settle if left for a bit.

    Teresa — No reason not to just use chocolate if that’s your thing, but the cocoa powder is not there just to balance out sugar — it really intensifies the chocolate flavor. Especially the good stuff.

    Vanilla extract — I know, it seems so strange to add a liquid, right? But it blends up just fine. You could also use some vanilla bean. But I used the liquid and it did not get the mix wet or sticky.

    amber — It is. It was a lifesaver in our old apartment when we didn’t have a microwave, so perfect for melting butter, chocolate or warming a cup of something.

    Tory — It was so nice to meet you. Thanks for sharing your link. Re, microwave, yes I used it to make some after dinner when the little pot was dirty. Just keep an eye on it. I should admit that I’m really new to microwaves because I’ve only had one for a couple months of the last decade but as milk when it simmers likes to bubble up and over… you’d want to stop before that happens. :)

    Lindsay — You can use chocolate chips. I think it would be a 1/2 cup for 3 ounces.

    To add powdered milk so this could be made with water — I was having a hard time getting a read on how much powdered milk would make one cup of milk! The most common suggestion I saw was 1/3 cup + 1 cup water = 1 cup milk. So, if that’s true, it would almost seem that you’d want to add 3 cups (!) of powdered milk here, and then use a heaped 1/2 cup of the mixture for every cup of hot cocoa you’d want to make, which is of course madness. I suspect that most mixes are using SOME powdered milk but maybe not enough for a full intensity cup of milk on its own. If that’s the case, perhaps you’d put 1 cup of powdered milk in here, and then, for each cup of simmering water/1-cup portion, you use just under 1/3 cup of the mix. But, I’m nervous recommending this without testing it.

    Meg — Probably just grind up some white chocolate with the spoonful of cornstarch — to help it grind and stay separated, as well as smoothly dissolve and add body.

    Gail — I realized that after. It should say 3T. I am sure my family, who is getting that jar, and thus who I will probably be making it for myself, will work it out. :)

  36. SP

    Deb–love this, perfect timing for the holidays, for both home pantry and others’. I am a huge Weck Jar fan. But, in your second picture, with the dark chocolate chunks + marshmallows in jars, what jars are those? And, the jar with the cocoa — from where did you get, that? I love those, too!

  37. Emily

    Have you done any experimenting with sipping chocolate? I can’t go back to hot chocolate after tasting the decadence of half and half mixed with chocolate shavings. Well, I guess technically it’s chocolate shavings mixed with a touch of half and half, as the drink is mainly just liquid chocolate.

  38. Nelson’s Mama

    I’ve always used the recipe on the Hershey’s container, too. I up it a bit by adding a smidgen of salt and some vanilla. My grandmother always used a dash of hot coffee to melt the ingredients in the bottom of the cup or pan – I think it adds a bit of flavor, so if I have that it goes in as well. :)

  39. Jamie

    Oh yay! Just made a hot chocolate mix with powdered milk the other day and the flavor was RUINED by it. So glad somebody else agrees with me…now just need to buy more cocoa.

  40. Deb, your recipe looks lovely, but I think you might like it even more if you do what I do every time I drink hot chocolate — make sure there’s a bit of Frangelico in the bottom of the mug to mix with it. Merry Christmas!

  41. S

    Can’t believe nobody has mentioned the sweetened condensed milk method yet! Put some sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of your mug, add Dutch-processed cocoa powder, and mix until fudgy. Then add hot milk up to the top of the mug and mix until dissolved. Delicious.

  42. A girlfriend introduced me to the brilliant Cocomotion in my senior year of college, and wow. It’s amazing.

    Essentially, it’s a heated stir plate that will blend liquid and your cocoa (or horchata mix, or what have you) into perfect, lump free, 194ºF deliciousness.

    It’s no longer marketed under the same name, but I bet this new version would be just as good.

    (not affiliated with them at all, just a hot chocolate fiend)

  43. I usually use the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa container and it’s great. I do like this for gift giving and I’m definitely going to try it out. Any reason to drink really good cocoa is fabulous! I love the stuff. Even when I was little, my Mom did it this way so I’ve never been fond of the instant packets.

  44. Juliet

    Does anybody remember Starbuck’s Chantico, the drinking chocolate? I’m sure that I would be carrying an extra 60lbs if they didn’t pull it of the market.

  45. Nicole

    Good rule of thumb for marshmallows: you get your age. Kids amazingly think it’s fair and adults, well….I’ve never actually seen an adult take as many as their age.

  46. Stephani

    This sounds amazing and perfect for gift-giving.
    For my own personal enjoyment, I tend to prefer a sipping chocolate version. Since I can’t have dairy anymore, I use almond milk. Heat up about 3 cups worth on the stove. Dump in about 1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips. Sprinkle in some chipotle powder, add a dash of cardamom and a shake of cinnamon. Yumm! But I like to overdose on flavors. No subtlety here.

  47. Annie

    I am forever ruined by the hot chocolate that I had in Italy, from of all places, an Autogrill ( rest-stop/restaurant chain found along the Italian Autostrada). It was rich, thick, creamy, and not too sweet. Starbuck’s Chantico came pretty darn close (damn them for pulling it from the market).

  48. Kimberly

    I just looked at use real butter and saw her hot cocoa recipe! It’s one of those things where you never hear a song and all of a sudden it’s everywhere.

  49. Susan

    Wow! This is so good! Best hot chocolate I’ve ever made. I happened to have a 3.5oz Lindt 70% bittersweet bar on hand and I used the whole thing instead of weighing it out to get it to 3oz; it was fine. I did back off on the cocoa a little, using a scant 1/2 cup just to even it up some. Deb, this is so timely for drinking and for gift giving. Thanks so much…Now where’s the mystery dunker?

  50. Betty

    Such a timely post! I was just searching for a hot chocolate mix recipe today and came across this. For the vanilla extract, if using liquid form, should you omit from adding to the powder mix until you are ready to serve?

  51. yes! I’ve been searching for ages for a good hot chocolate recipe! I’m only a recent coffee drinker, so a good cup of cocoa will always be my first love. Brown sugar instead of white actually tastes amazing in hot chocolate…gives it a depth of flavor.

  52. Amy P

    I just made it, and it’s great! I used 1 oz bittersweet chocolate and 2 oz semisweet, as well as Dutch processed cocoa. The perfect mix of sweet & rich. Thanks!

    I’ve tried making marshmallows a few times and always ended up with a sticky mess…I have a great thermometer so I’m starting to think marshmallows and the humid ‘Wet’ Coast just don’t mix.

  53. JP

    For any interested, you can purchase pure or imitation vanilla powder online. It would be perfect in a recipe like this. I heard about it recently on a Cook’s Illustrated podcast. Also, I have found those micro mini dehydrated marshmallows in stores that have the bulk food aisle. Furthermore, Deb, my dry milk is 3 tablespoons to a cup of water. Just sayin’. I could live on hot cocoa. It is my favorite part of winter. Thanks for the new recipe.

  54. Dennis

    Can’t wait to try it out. I have no use for marshmallows unless they are charred over a wood fire on the end of a stick, but my wife is crazy about them raw. What she drinks is not really hot chocolate; it is more like marshmallow soup. Or wet marshmallows. Before I met her I didn’t realize a full bag of marshmallows will fit in a 12 ounce mug.

  55. Elizabeth

    I noticed in your photo, the label on the jar I believe says 3 teaspoons of mix for 1 cup of milk, but in your written recipe you say 3 tablespoons. Which is correct?

  56. Gina

    I made this tonight and it was excellent. I used trader joes pound plus bittersweet chocolate and their cocoa powder. I also used vanilla extract and it didn’t get wet at all. This filled a pint mason jar about 3/4 of the way with mix for me. Thanks for the great recipe!

  57. Ruthan

    Oh I love you for so many reasons but especially for this. I found grated-chocolate mix in a store exactly once, and then never again. Could I just grate some chocolate into my cocoa powder/sugar cocoa? Sure, but …. but.

  58. Janae

    Hi, Deb! This looks wonderful; hot choc is one of my favorite treats. When I make it I put the cocoa/sugar/etc in the mug, then I add a tiny amount of the hot milk and stir with a fork until it is a smooth paste with no lumps. Then I slowly add the rest of the milk while stirring; smooth hot chocolate every time! Thanks for recipe, I love that there’s ground chocolate in it!!

  59. Leslie

    Question about the jars you linked to. I like the juice jars and that price is right. Would the smallest size they offered be a good size for this amount of cocoa? I realize I can probably just make a ton and then divvy it out, leaving what’s left for me ;), but just wondered if you knew. Money is right this year and I think this could be a nicely inexpensive gift with a couple of crocheted mug cozy’s to go with them!

  60. Emily from Los Angeles

    And this recipe is exactly why you are consistently my favorite food blogger/writer and inspire-r. I love all things smitten kitchen!

  61. Jane

    Thanks so much for this!!!!Such great timing. My preschoolers and I had planned to use the Cooks Illustrated Recipe to create a hot chocolate recipe to give to their parents as a gift for Christmas. Yesterday they decorated mason jars with glass paint in preparation for creating the mix today . I erroneously assumed that the Cooks Illustrated recipe would be perfect.Thank goodness you tried it and found it too bitter!!!! It would have been awful if the kids did not enjoy drinking their gift with their families;/
    We will obviously make yours instead and add a package of your delicious homemade marshmallows from a couple of years back to make it even better.

  62. Frangelico! Add Frangelico for a luscious hazelnut boozy tang.

    We do the alcoholic hot chocolate here in my corner of England. When the day is crepuscular and dank, we need our hot chocolate to push us down into an overstuffed armchair. It’s Winter, all our days are crepuscular and dank.

  63. Clavis

    A creamy cocoa-and-sugar hot chocolate trick that I discovered completely by accident a few years ago is to make the paste like several commenters have recommended (and as I used to always make hot chocolate), but to make it JUST with cocoa and less milk/water than you think you’ll need, THEN add the sugar once it’s already a smooth paste, and finally however much additional milk you want (I generally make this cold and put the whole thing into the microwave, but you could do it in a pot too.) The key is to make the cocoa-milk paste first and then it turns out incredibly thick and creamy, no little lumpy bits.

  64. The secret to lump-free hot chocolate is to mix your cocoa and sugar with a tiny bit of water to a thinnish paste. Do NOT use milk for this, because it won’t work: instant lumps…. Plain cold water from the tap is fine. Pour the hot milk over this and stir to get perfect hot cocoa. Works every time!

  65. Red

    (I hate that this sounds like criticism, because you are a splendid cook and your recipes are amazing.) I have always used the recipe on the side of the Hershey cocoa can, which calls for cooking/boiling the cocoa and sugar with a small amount of water until the cocoa and sugar are dissolved—then the milk is added and heated to serving temperature. I was taught that cocoa was essentially a “raw” product and needed to be cooked. Obviously that’s not entirely true: cocoa buttercream frosting! But in most recipes that use cocoa, the matrix is cooked in some way.

  66. dear deb,
    your blog has been accompanying me for the last three years, and it’s safe to say that i have tried at least a hundred of your recipes and all of them were a success.
    recently i noticed that you don’t use any gram or milliliter measurements. I just wanted to say that i appreciated those so much.
    thanks for everything, you are the bestest!!

  67. Maryellen

    Love your writing–and getting a good chuckle this early in the morning. Thanks for modifying the CI recipe. Yours looks so much more delish and will be served tonight during Christmas tree decorating!

  68. deb

    Deborah — I’ve got some links to different jars, such as the one I used, at the end of the recipe.

    Lara — My bad; I keep being in such a rush when I post, and I leave it for last. Will add these shortly. Feel free to leave an “Ahem, metrics!” comment on any recipe I’ve missed and I’ll always go back to those first.

    The Millers Tale — I dislike dark/damp days as much as anyone, but still want to live inside your comment because it was so evocative. :)

    Leslie — For the Weck jars, I would get the .5 liter size, which is just over 2 cups. Each batch of this recipe will not fill it completely. May I recommend filling the extra space with minimarshmallows? Do note: this price is for packs of 6. The first time I ordered tall juice jars, I missed this and ended up with… well, the rather large collection of them I have now. I also donated some to a soup kitchen, so there’s that.

    Dennis — I want to be friends with your wife!

  69. Look at all those marshmallows! Hot cocoa/chocolate really is so delicious on its own, but it’s definitely a vehicle for marshmallow lovins. I’m so excited that your method here can lean towards the non-dairy peeps too! Can’t wait to try this with some coconut milk.

  70. Oh yummity yum yum yum. We often make cocoa, and I haven’t liked the CI recipe, either. Will try this! You know what are really good marshmallows in cocoa? Those new big square ones for s’mores. ;)

  71. Patty

    Hey Deb,

    This looks fantabulous! Considering this as a host/ess gift to bring to holiday gatherings!

    Wondering if powdered sugar would be a viable substitute for the granulated…it already has the cornstarch in it and I have a TON of it left over from Thanksgiving. It always just sits in the cupboard and I wind up tossing it. : ( Thanks!

  72. Allison

    Anyone have a semi- or bittersweet chocolate to recommend?

    Also, any suggestions for where to find jars/containers for turning this into gifts…

    Finally, I found Dandies Vegan marshmallows online with great reviews. Encouraging.

  73. Paige

    This looks divine, and I love reading everyone’s hot chocolate stories and recommendations. Here are a couple of my favorite ingredients: For the chocolate, I haven’t found anything I like better than Scharffen Berger chocolate (romantic artisan beginnings; now owned by Hershey). And for that special adult flavor, you MUST try Cuarenta y Tres (Licor 43)!

  74. JoAnn S

    In place of the vanilla you could use Dr. Oetker’s Vanilla Sugar. One pouch of Dr. Oetker Vanilla Sugar is equivalent to 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. It can be found in most supermarkets (Walmart)in the baking section. Can’t find it? Google it…there are lots of online sources.

  75. Jill

    Read this and immediately made it with what I had in the cupboard: hershey’s cocoa powder and nestle semisweet chocolate chips. I used a bullet blender because I don’t have a food processor, and I just made sure to stir through it several times looking for chips that hadn’t been ground up. I used whole milk and it is deliciously rich and chocolatey; I can see how it will be even better with some nicer chocolate. (and some Baileys) My kids and I are hosting a cookie decorating party next weekend and I think this will be a perfect little gift to send home with their friends. Thanks, Deb!

  76. Peri

    Perfect! One question:do you suggest tapioca starch as an alternative to cornstarch? No corn for me.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog!

    1. deb

      Peri — You can, but be very cautious with it. I find it to have a much stronger bond than cornstarch; you might start with 1/3 to 1/2.

      Erica — I haven’t, but no reason not to use it here.

      (P.S. Am I the only one who finds that when I stick an old vanilla bean in sugar, the sugar gets clumpy from the extra moisture? I tend not to make vanilla sugar for this reason. I’m really no fun at all, I know.)

      Allison — Links to different jars including the jar/mug I used are at the end of the recipe. Chocolate, use whatever you like to bake with. I did have Valrhona around, which is definitely la creme de la creme in pricing and flavor, but I have a lot of luck with Guittard chocolate. I usually have 1-pound boxes of their baking discs around; the quality is excellent and at $9 to $10 per 1lb/box, seems pretty fair for good chocolate. If you’d like to slide further down the price scale, you won’t go wrong with one of those pound-plus bars from Trader Joe’s, but you’ll want a scale to get the correct weight you need.

  77. Bridgit

    Several years ago we bought a kilo (!!!!) of cocoa powder and made an adaptation of Cook’s Country’s hot cocoa mix as gifts for our family and friends. Many got plain hot cocoa, but many got “spicy”: cinnamon, cayenne, and maybe something else (ginger, cardamom?). We have adapted the mix every time we have made it, so I’m looking forward to making your’s this year. We’ve also made Molly Weizenberg’s marshmallows with mint instead of vanilla… Yum!

  78. I have always made homemade hot chocolate by mixing and heating cocoa powder, a pinch of salt, sugar, and just a little milk/water. It forms a smooth thick chocolate syrup or base for the hot chocolate. Then, add and heat the milk. Add flavor, like vanilla at the end when it is removed from the heat. If you add all of the ingredients in at the beginning, you will get lumps and it’ll stay powdery- it works soo much better like this! Your recipe looks delicious!

  79. stephanie

    deb, when i make hot chocolate i boil water. put the mix in the mug, add just a little boiling water – takes up less than 1/4 of the mug you’re using. with a tiny whisk (my mom always had these…ergo…everyone should! lol) dissolve the mix. then, top with milk, stir, nuke for two minutes. it’s still creamy but with no lumps, and no pan to wash either.

    i also put marshmallow fluff on my hot chocolate – not only do you get marshmallow-y goodness, it melts over the top like a lid, and the hot chocolate stays hot longer. i just assume no one minds having a pencil thin white mustache ;)

  80. another Leslie

    Oh my goodness! Thank you for the comment, Deb, on vanilla sugar. I thought I did something wrong last year when my creations (gifts) got all clumpy and … well, just clumpy. I was afraid I was going to give food poisoning to my friends.

    And, thank you for all your great recipes and for the wonderful blog. I haven’t commented before — just pop in to listen and watch in silence — but I’m signing up for the auto feed thing now. Really love all your ideas and your spunky spirit. Have a wonderful holiday season.


  82. I made this today and I am having a mug now (half whole milk, half almond milk) and it is perfect. I made the recipe as is, and had no issues. The extract doesn’t clump. Just be sure to process the hell out of it to break up the chocolate. I added a tiny drop of mint extract to my mug and good grief! I’m going to be drinking this all winter.

  83. Michele H.

    I can say nothing…I’ve been known to put butter and marshmallows in a cereal bowl, nuke them, and add Rice Krispies to make my own personal Rice Krispie treat. I won’t tell anybody.

  84. Oh yum! This looks so indulgent, Im trying to limit my hot chocolate intake in the run up to christmas (too much chocolate everywhere ahh) but this might just break it!

  85. Addy


    I was wondering where did you get that mason jar to store your sugar in? It’s amazing, trying to find bigger glass storage containers.

    Besides that your recipe is amazing, will be my Christmas morning drink with the mini marshmallows! : ) Or every day this Winter!

  86. Wanda

    Would you believe I mixed this up while on a strict eating plan. The mix smells awesome. Think I’ll make a cup for my husband and take a sip!
    I made the roasted yams for thanksgiving. Loved them.

  87. Debbie

    Wow! Made this today. Creamy, chocolaty, and rich. Only problem was the cocoa started to fly out of the food processor. I fixed the problem by putting a dish towel around the machine. Next time I would make a double batch.

  88. Stephanie

    I just made this and it tastes delicious. It had a lot of globby bits in it which I think resulted from the cornstarch. Next time I will leave out the cornstarch and make a paste as a lot of people have recommended instead. I love the addition of real chocolate, I used lindt 70% baking chocolate. Yum!

  89. JP

    Wow, Deb, I have been reading your blog from the beginning and never saw you hacked like #152-156. Absolutely spooky! Why would these weirdos use a cooking blog for this garbage? Best wishes on the delete button!

  90. Definitely trying this. I have always loved hot chocolate (is there even a need to state the obvious??) but I am starting to get really tired of the sugary mixes sold in stores, and like you, I’ve only been able to make chalky hot chocolate in the past. I am really hoping this recipe is the answer to my hot chocolate prayers!

  91. Martin

    Deb, that’s a great sounding recipe that I’ll most definitely try out pretty soon. Thanks a lot!

    As something of a professional hot chocolate maker (working barista for five years), I just want to note, that lump free hot chocolate can of course be made from nothing but cocoa powder and sugar as you used to do.
    Just mix the desired amount of cocoa powder (I’d recommend 1.5-2 heaped teaspoons for a 6 to 8oz cappuccino cup) with 1.5 times the amount cane sugar and add some hot water. Stir until dissolved and top up with hot (preferably foamed) milk. Works well with an espresso machine or of course a microwave oven.
    Just don’t try to dissolve the cocoa powder directly in the milk.

    I’ll still try out the far more “christmassy” version you described :)

  92. Jenn

    Hi, Deb! Love your blog! I will be making this fabulous chocolate for my Christmas gifts! I am very curious, tho, as to what you dunk in your chocolate. Please hurry!

  93. Patsy

    needed a last minute hostess gift so I found this recipe whipped it up, heated a cup of almond milk and added 2 T (2 was enough for my taste) This is heaven in a cup Delicious can’t wait to give as gift

  94. Karen

    As everyone says: Perfect timing! I needed a large batch of cocoa for a gathering this morning.

    If you’re making THE ENTIRE BATCH of cocoa all at once, here’s what I found:

    First, I DOUBLED the recipe and measured by WEIGHT with a digital kitchen scale. I then measured out servings (3T per) and arrived at 15 (cups). A Gallon of milk is 16 cups. So, an entire single batch = approx. 7.5 cups milk & a DOUBLE batch approx. 15 cups milk. (In other words, I found that 9 cups of milk for a single batch would *potentially* be too thin/ too much milk. At 7.5/batch, whole milk, it was DIVINE.)

  95. My quick recipe for a large mug is two tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons cocoa (half Hershey’s, half Pernigotti) and a wee pinch of salt, mixed and wetted with a little water before adding almost 2 cups of milk. Nuke it for 2 minutes and pour, over the sink, into said mug. Whipped cream if available.
    Good before anything mental or social.

  96. Katrina

    Hi! Was wondering if there was any substantial difference in using raw cacao instead of cocoa powder? Been using a lot of raw cacao in smoothies lately and its (theoretically) supposed to be healthier…

  97. Rebecca

    If you need hot chocolate in a pinch, your old way, but without the lumps — put the cocoa and sugar in a pan, add just enough cream to form a paste, then add milk and whisk gently. No lumps! This is how my grandmother always used to make it.

  98. April

    Cornstarch is really difficult to find in my area, as is tapioca flour as I saw someone ask about in the comments. What would be another good alternative? Or would it be easier to skip it (how does cornstarch help the drink)?

    I can get mochiko (rice flour) here. I’m not certain but I think it might be like cornstarch, only from rice instead of corn. I’ve heard it used as a thickener before, at least.

  99. Jenny J.

    Thanks for all the great gift ideas, lovely. And I have a wee request for you…how about trying Almond Rocca ? It’s candy and I just cannot get it right !! It would be great if you could trouble shoot this recipe ! The chocolate falls off or it’s too chewy, never, ever comes out right !! Help !

  100. Catherine

    Your timing is impeccable. For her birthday (today) breakfast, my 6-year-old wanted French toast and hot chocolate. We live in Hawaii so I don’t keep hot cocoa mix on hand (not withstanding the not-hot-chocolate weather, the tropical humidity turns any kind of mix with sugar in it into a solid block of ick within a couple of weeks regardless of how tightly I try to seal it).
    I halfed the recipe, and made it all at one time for our family. The only solid chocolate I had was mini semi-sweet chips, but they worked perfectly. No lumps, no bumps, and the birthday girl (and her two sisters) were delighted. Thank you!

  101. pstmom

    Just made this and put in pint jars for my daughter’s preschool teachers. She will decorate the tops/labels. What a perfect gift! Thanks Deb!

  102. MaryM

    I love hot cocoa, and I especially like a dose of hot cocoa mix in my morning cup of hot, black coffee. This recipe is going to be filling jars in my kitchen very soon!
    P. S. What is up with all the spell-casters?

  103. Erica

    I had all the goods, made this in 10 min flat ( processed the sugar and well chopped chocolate first to eliminate as many lumps from the mix as possible) and heated 1/2 cp of coconut milk and half a cp of 1/2&1/2 (what was in the house!) with the 3 TBLSP – made the ‘roux’ first w/ water. OMG, I am not a hot chocolate lover, after Angelina’s can one ever drink hot chocolate again? This recipe is seriously elegant and I am going to process a few jars a night for the next few nights, and my holiday shopping is DONE! Thank you Deb.

  104. LolaK

    Hi! Normally I don’t see these posts, but there are weird ones advertising a spell caster on this recipe, specifically comments 185, 169, 155. Just an FYI.

    1. deb

      LolaK — I’ll find and remove them, thanks. I always get weird and spammy comments but I tend to remove them on an almost-daily basis, however, I’ve been away for a bunch of days and am just catching up. Thanks for the heads up.

  105. Rebecca

    Thank you! Made this over the weekend and the kids loved it and my husband said “this is what I dream hot cocoa should taste like.”

  106. Rebecca

    This will be perfect for my daughter’s (turning 10) birthday party at home. The girls will love mixing up the cocoa, decorating the tags and taking the filled mug jars home as party favors. Of course they will have to sample some hot chocolate while they are here. Thanks for the awesome idea for a variation on a tea party!

  107. Erika

    For some reason I hate using powdered milk (just doesn’t seem right!), so I’m glad you found a way to nix it!
    I will so be trying this! Thanks for doing all the work for us.

  108. Lizzie

    I made this and abandoned all other cocoa from my life :) It was spectacular! However, I did leave a fine layer of powdery goodness all over half of my kitchen, just as a warning! It was a bit of a messy project.

  109. deb

    April — Maybe arrowroot powder, can you get that? If not, you can try skipping it. Make a small batch, make sure it dissolves okay and has a good body. You’ll probably be just fine without it.

    Katrina — I haven’t worked at all with raw cocoa, but from what I read about it, it’s worth trying. How do the flavors compare?

    Elsie — Could it have gotten warm in the Vitamix? I’ve heard about it “cooking” foods if it runs for a bit. It’s the only thing I can think of, unless you meant it was clumpy once cooked into milk?

    Marianne — Yes, that should be just fine.

    Addy — I get large jars, and really most of my clamp-top jars, from They have a big range, surprisingly enough, and a lot of brands.

    Erin — Yes, arrowroot should be fine.

  110. Sugarmama

    amazing. as always. i am about to whip up 30 of these for gifts!! thank you. such a great idea. (can you hear the sound of my two toddlers lapping it up in the background?)

  111. Peggy

    Thank you, Deb! I whipped up a quintuple batch with my first-grader and fourth-grader yesterday. Great gifts for teachers! And my daughters insisted on testing out your mix. You get their unabashed approval!

  112. I’m so excited to try this out- I’ve always been on the hunt for the best cocoa and this looks like an awesome recipe. Thanks for another great one, Deb! Also, a very big thank you for all the great recipes I’ve tried to rave reviews in the last few years :D

  113. Patty B.

    Delicious! May pack in small decorative mason jars (the ones I thought were really pretty but are a pain to actually pack and process.)

  114. Heather

    The best trick for this is to put your 3tb in a mug, then add a small amount of very hot water and stir. This will help it dissolve well. Add your milk and then microwave until hot. This is very delicious!!! Thanks so much for posting.

  115. April

    Deb – I’ve never heard of arrowroot powder outside of blogs! As hard as it is to find cornstarch here, I’m sure it would be even harder to find arrowroot powder.

    I’ll try skipping it and seeing how it goes. Thanks!

  116. Liz

    April, Not sure where you are, but if you can get masa harina or corn flour, that should work albeit a slightly different flavor. I happen to love masa and use it in a spicy thick hot chocolate I make (see Deb’s reference to Mexican Hot Chocolate). If you are in the U.S. – but I’m guessing not if cornstarch is hard to come by… Amazon has the arrowroot (Bob’s Red Mill).

  117. Glenda

    When I make hot chocolate I add the sugar and cocoa powder to a little water in a pan, heat that to boiling first then add the milk. No lumps. If you wanted to add in chocolate chips, I add those after the milk and before it gets too hot.

  118. Liza

    I just tested out this recipe for, you know, gifts…;) It really is delicious! Many thanks for the recipe, Deb!! I think it’s the wonderful combo of cocoa and chocolate that makes it shine. But what about the cornstarch? What is its purpose in this recipe?

  119. Maryna

    This sounds great. In South Africa we are in the middle of summer (average temperature of 35 degrees C or hotter). Will keep this for winter and send to my daughter in Scotland.

  120. Jenny J.

    Hi again Deb,

    I think of it as a candy, a thin crunchy ( it should crack when you bite it and then melt in your mouth) butter toffee base layer with a coating of melted milk chocolate and a sprinkle of finely chopped almonds. Some recipes call for almonds mixed into the toffee layer as well. The combination is amazing, just pure buttery goodness with chocolate and a little nutty bite. You usually just break it up into irregular pieces, once cool it couldn’t be cut if you’ve done it right.

  121. Mai

    Yum made at work this morning because we had a bunch of leftover chocolate from a project we did awhile back. For some reason we had tapioca flour but no cornstarch so we did 3g and it worked quite nicely. And I made the gingerbread biscotti (with some minced candied ginger because we’re all ginger fiends) last night so we were feasting!

  122. Desiree

    I used Dutch process cocoa powder, and 1/3 bittersweet cocoa, the rest semi-sweet. I used ground vanilla bean powder, and I also used rice starch rather than corn starch (it doesn’t really get lumpy), I whisked all of the chocolate mix that I needed into my almond milk while it was still cold, then slowly brought it all to a simmer.

    Delicious. Though now I’d really like to try using the coconut cream powder in it instead. It does seem to be lacking a little in richness. If I weren’t vegan, I’d use half and half with this rather than regular milk. I might just try full fat coconut milk or cashew milk with it next time.

  123. Karen

    This was perfect! I am enjoying a cup right now…someone has to do the quality control! I forgot to chop the chocolate, but it wasn’t too big, and was just fine. I like that it has a little thickness to it from the cornstarch, and everything mixed up really well. No clumps. Sometimes that happens when I use the recipe on the back of the cocoa carton. Thanks so much!

  124. Rupi D

    Thanks for this perfect hot cocoa recipe Deb! It’s perfectly sweet (not overly), deep and melts perfectly. I did 1/2 semi sweet chocolate and 1/2 bittersweet chocolate, used Dutch cocoa and small bit of vanilla seeds from a bean.

  125. al

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I made this tonight and it’s DELICIOUS!! I wish I doubled the recipe. Going to pick up another bar of bittersweet chocolate tomorrow so I can make another batch.

  126. Liz

    I didn’t make the mix … I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but occasionally I want a little hot chocolate – like this morning. I didn’t know about mixing the cocoa in a bit of water and then adding hot milk and that technique made a perfect drink for me – thanks to all for that info.

    And Mai, above – what a great idea to add some candied ginger to the biscotti – I AM a ginger fiend also and that sounds wonderful!

  127. hulsta

    I made this last night on a whim. It was quick and more importantly hands down the best hot chocolate I ever had. And I’m living in Switzerland!

    It did make a bit of mess with the cocoa flying out of food processor and it being quite hard to get from the food processor bowl to a container, etc. I think I lost maybe half of the mix to the countertops. It was probably just me being a klutz, of course. The hot chocolate was definitely worth the cleanup, though!

  128. Lara

    I had to scrape myself off the floor to write this, and Oh. My. Lord. This. This is it. The hot cocoa mix I’ve been searching for all my life. There was always *something* missing when using cocoa powder, and the clumping… I think I might have to go um, test, what happens when using different chocolates and sweetness levels.

  129. Made this last night and it ended up being a huge mess. The chocolate must have gotten warm in the blender, because it turned out one hard clump that sprayed all over the kitchen when I tried to punch it out with a spoon.

    In the pot of hot milk I ended up having more huge clumps that wouldn’t dissolve, so I thought I’d stir it with my immersion blender. VERY bad idea, it went all over the walls :p

    BUT when it was finally done and I ended up with half the hot chocolate I originally put in the pot, it was absolutely delicious. Next time I’ll use a bigger pot, that should solve the splatter problem. Thanks so much for this very satisfying recipe!

  130. czb

    I lived in Belgium for a short while [about +5kg]. I ordered a hot chocolate at a cafe in Brussels, and it was hot milk poured over chocolate ganache, served with a spoon to mix the layers. This is generally my favorite way to make hot chocolate now – the ganache can be stored in the refrig in an airtight container. Disclaimer: see above +5kg…

  131. Allison

    I just finished making this. I had one cup to taste it, then I immediately made a second batch while I had everything out. I’ll be serving it for my Christmas party. It should be fine simmering on low in a slow cooker for a few hours, right?

  132. Beth

    Just finished making this as Christmas presents for my family. I had enough left over to make myself a cup, and am going back to the kitchen to make a jar for myself before I clean up. I love the deep but not too sweet chocolate flavor. I think the cornstarch adds a little body that a lot of cocoa mixes have, but homemade mixes never seem to create.

    I used Droste’s cocoa (my favorite) and when I ran out, Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa (my second favorite). I used Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate (I used a combo of bars and chips because that is what I had in the cupboard). I do not (yet) own a food processor, but I do have a little food chopper. I chopped up the chips/bars very fine, threw everything in the chopper, and it worked great. I made two regular, one peppermint, and one mocha (that is the leftover flavor, and it is amazing). Thanks for the great recipe!

  133. Hayley

    Made this today and it has become my go-to cocoa recipe. I will DEFINITELY be keeping this in stock for those frosty winter nights. Not that it matters a whole bunch, but I’m mint-obsessive, so I used a mint-infused dark chocolate (peppermint oil, not a fondant filling) and it was brilliant.

  134. April

    Back to report that it dissolved just fine without the cornstarch when whisking the chocolate powder mixture into the hot milk on the stove.

    I used semi-sweet chocolate chips in the food processor, and my cocoa-loving husband thought the final product needed a hint more sweetness (I made 3 cups worth to start with and ended up adding a teaspoon of sugar to that batch before getting his approval). Otherwise it was great.

  135. April

    (Just realized that ours probably wasn’t sweet enough because we didn’t have a handful of marshmallows shoved into our mugs with the hot cocoa. So other peoples’ mileage may vary.)

  136. TerryLa

    Thank you, thank you! Made this today and love it so much I’m making a big batch for Christmas gifts. I even used skim milk and it was awesome! Not too sweet!

  137. I made this today and it’s delicious. The semisweet chocolate adds a wonderful taste and texture to the hot cocoa. And if that wasn’t enough, it made for the most adorable DIY gifts for my coworkers (click on my name above for photo evidence)!

  138. So, I’ve already made about 6 batches of this mix – love it. Perfect gift and perfect way to make your morning coffee ultra-luxurious.

    I found that 3Tbs/cup of milk was too rich for my taste [though quite delicious] and have stuck to ~2Tbs/cup. So wonderful with those marshmallows!

  139. Margot

    Your feelings about powdered milk strike me as funny. I’d been working on mastering my mom’s homemade bread recipe. She’s a 90-yo farm wife still living on the farm by herself. I thought I was using the better ingredient by using fresh milk but, much to my chagrin, the bread didn’t taste close to hers until I started using powdered milk in the recipe.

    My mom’s “instant cocoa” recipe calls for powdered sugar, powdered coffee creamer, and powdered milk. It’s ideal for work or college kids where you don’t necessarily have access to milk or a stovetop.

    Being at different points in your life often makes quite a difference in what makes a recipe/ item of clothing/ activity, etc. ideal. :)

  140. Juliet

    I made this over the weekend, and it is fantastic. The chocolate and the corn starch make the hot chocolate thick and rich, even when using low fat milk. Not all of the chocolate dissolved when I made the hot chocolate, but there are worse things than finding chocolate slurry at the bottom of the cup.

    I’m giving jars of this as stocking stuffers!

  141. Monique

    Just made a case of this as Hanukkah gifts, used Valrhona chocolate (65%) and Valrhona cocoa. I made a cup for myself using skim milk, and I must say that I heartily approve! This will be a new holiday staple. Will try another batch with mint or almond extract instead of vanilla, just to keep it interesting. Thanks for the great recipe and for thoroughly wrecking my appreciation for the store-bought powdered stuff! I’m ruined.

  142. Rachel

    I made some of this to sample before assembling into teachers gifts. I love the flavour, there appears to be a sediment sticking to the side of my mug though. I heated my milk up in the microwave, so maybe the mixture didn’t dissolve enough? Any ideas?

  143. My husband made this mix and we’ve been enjoying all week. It’s sooo indulgent and perfect in the evenings. We’ve added a bit of freshly whipped cream too. Oh yeah! Thank you for this recipe!

  144. Wife To An Amazing Cook

    Thanks for helping my holiday gift giving come together in a snap! I made the recipe (x6), packed in glass jars and gave it to teachers, friends, etc. Delicious and lovely presentation. This will defeinitely stay in our gift giving rotation!

  145. Amy P

    I’m finding that this is awesome when really hot, but as it cools to warm, it starts lumping up somehow. I’ve had a few mugs now and it happens consistently. I’m not exactly sure what’s causing it – the cornstarch? The cocoa? The chocolate?

  146. we’ve been making this nearly nightly since you posted it. I feel both a little gross and festive about it and am so glad you shared the perfect ratio. Happy holidays to your sweet family, deb!

  147. I haven’t tried making cocoa by “scratch”. My grandmother would sometimes give me these dark chocolate tablea chips and I often use that for chocolate porridge instead of hot cocoa. Never thought why I didn’t think of making a chocolate drink out of it. haha! Now I will. I think that’ll be easier to do without the clumping than using powdered cocoa.

  148. Ilene

    Whoops. comment cutoff. Just saying I’ve made tons of the cocoa with cocoa/sugat/hot water paste and it comes out great but the ground up choc. chips added a nice flavor and texture. I tested in on my hot choc. mad teen and she loved it. I plan to make a mocha version for work with some espresso powder. Thanks again

  149. Paige

    Yum! This is really great. Made 8x the recipe and was able to fill 7.5 pint sized mason jar mug things. Going to get supplies to make more since I bought a whole case of the mugs. Just made myself a cup and it’s seriously GREAT! We’ve been using the Dagoba hot chocolate that has little chunks of chocolate in it, but they never seem to dissolve and it’s just kind of a meh experience. This dissolves amazingly and tastes so rich. Bonus is that I’m able to make it my Nespresso milk frother (anything with chunks dislodges the magnetically-attached whisk).

    This is definitely one of the easiest Christmas food gifts I’ve ever made but I have a feeling it’ll go over very well.

  150. nzle

    I just used the gram measurements divided by 8 to make 1 mug (12 ounces) of hot chocolate — using the tiniest pinches of cornstarch, vanilla, and salt — and would like to report that it works perfectly!

  151. Aislinn

    This was super tasty! It dissolved wonderfully. We’re making a bunch for gifts, packaging in mason jar mugs with regular screw top lids. Then we’re including another mason jar mug with homemade peppermint or cinnamon schnapps! We sampled them together last night–delicious! In the package, we’re also including the sip lids and straws for our family to use on the mugs once they finish up the contents.

  152. Kathryn

    Ah, just in time too because I whipped up a batch of Ina’s marshmallows which are screaming hot chocolate! Seriously, you gotta make the marshmallows to go with this delish fare.

  153. Fiona

    Thanks for this amazing recipe. I have finally found the perfect hot chocolate. It has just the perfect amount of everything. I typically find most hot chocolates too diluted and blah, but this is rich and creamy. I used semi sweet chocolate, but I think I will try a bittersweet next time. I made this for xmas gifts and packaged them to look like reindeer, for those who have ready received them- it was a hit! Our new cold weather staple. Thanks again.

  154. Gwen

    After I taste tested a couple of batches, I have been churning this out for gifting. A few notes:
    Quadruple batches fit nicely in the food processor and it seems to be slightly less messy.
    If you start with the sugar, cornstarch and chocolate, you don’t have to chop the chocolate, I just broke the squares in half. The cornstarch prevented lumping.
    For my taste, I found that 2/3 semisweet and 1/3 bittersweet was perfect. I also cut the cornstarch back by 1/4.

    Even a quadruple batch doesn’t last long when you are making it for gift jars.

    Thanks again for the recipe!

  155. This is seriously decadent, and seriously the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had at home! A little bitter on it’s own but so perfectly perfect with the mini marshmallows on top.

    I chopped my chocolate (60% girradelli, 4 oz) by hand – it took 30-45 min to chop and sift but it was totally worth it.

  156. Jen

    Made this and it was great! I did use a heaping 1/2 c sugar because it was a bit too bitter for the kiddo otherwise (used Ghirardelli semi sweet bar). I also preferred it made with 2.5 T mix because it was a tiny bit less rich. (I know, who would have thought I’d prefer it less rich?) And we tried a mint version too with mint extract and thought it was wonderful. I packed plain and mint mix up for people for Christmas and it was a big hit. Next I’m going to make a batch with almond extract because I just love chocolate and almond together. Thanks Deb!

  157. Mary Ann Jones

    I’m drinking my first cup as I type. This is the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had! I made two batches of this mix and your gingerbread biscotti for gifts. I even ordered Weck tulip jars and little bakery boxes for presentation and my 2 nieces were thrilled. I gave you all the credit! Tonight I decided to make some for myself (since I hadn’t even sampled the hot chocolate before gifting it) and dunk the one remaining piece of biscotti in it. Pure bliss! Thank you!

  158. Kim

    Love your recipes. Quick question, many homemade hot chocolate recipes I have tried in the past used powered, confectioners, 10x sugar, so I wanted to find out if you have tried this in your recipe, or even do half 10x sugar and half granulated sugar. I would guess it would melt or combine easier as well.

  159. Natalie

    Tips for microwaving single servings:
    Heat the milk in a large measuring cup or other container, rather than the mug you plan to drink from. The mix needs some pretty vigorous whisking to dissolve, and trying to stir it in the mug makes a giant mess, in my experience! After stirring in the mix, heat a bit more and whisk again to dissolve fully. Then pour it into the mug. This makes for a process a bit longer and more involved than your average dump and stir mix, but it’s worth it!

  160. Sharon

    Any suggestions as to how much powdered milk to add if I wanted to make it for college students who don’t keep milk on hand? This sounds so amazing! Thanks!

  161. Asya

    Hi Deb! I love your site–the writing, the pictures, and your beautiful love for food. I’m a struggling baker and cooker, but I decided to make this mix as it just involved buying ingredients, chopping, and mixing up. I used Ghirardelli Semisweet and the cocao powder Whole Foods has in its bulk bins. Followed the rest of the recipe to a tee and gifted the mix to my hot chocolate fiend of a boyfriend. We made it tonight using almond milk, and it came out pretty bland. Any adjustments? More chocolate? I expect that whole milk would be richer, but he’s lactose intolerant. I think for the rest of the mix we will add cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Unfortunately he’s not a marshmallow or whipped cream lover.

    1. deb

      Asya — You might enjoy it in a higher concentration, an extra tablespoon per cup for more oomph. Should we have a talk with your boyfriend about his dislike of marshmallows and whipped cream? (Basically, food groups here at the Smitten Kitchen.) :)

  162. Debby

    I made two dozen batches of Decadent Hot Chocolate for Christmas Gifts for friends (and myself) to enjoy with the Gingerbread Biscotti. I felt like making each batch separately was like a meditation, yet I’m wondering, Deb, if you ever doubled or tripled the recipe as one batch in the food processor? I gave some to a friend who lives in New York, and she wrote that she thought it was better than her favorite by Jacques Torres. It is the best hot chocolate I’ve enjoyed west of the Mississippi and do my best to only have a cup every other day! Thank you thank you!!!!

  163. siets

    Made this twice in three days one batch for me, (which included milk chocolate, some orange peel and cardamom) and another for my friend (following the recipe exactly). It was really good with just two tablespoons. YUM! Now only need to add marshmallows and cream. It can only get better!

  164. danielle

    i have a nespresso aeroccino, which is a milk frother/heater. i was wondering if you think i could use it to prepare the hot chocolate, and skip the stove step altogether. the aeroccino heats milk to drinking temperature, would it work? or does the mix need to be combined with the milk at a higher temperature? thank you!!

  165. Panya

    I divided the recipe and made a single cup a couple of times, then made the whole recipe. I don’t use pure vanilla extract and suspected the alcohol in the pure stuff might be crucial to the shelf stability, so I left it out altogether since it’s such a minuscule amount. Because I don’t use marshmallows either [I’m vegetarian and vegan marshmallows are ridiculously priced and hard to find] I found this wasn’t nearly as sweet as I usually like my hot cocoa to be; I think I’ll have to double the sugar, at least, to get it where I like it. Overall this is a good recipe that mimics the store-bought kind I used to buy before it was discontinued, so I’m pleased to tweak it just a bit to get it just-right for me.

  166. Johanna

    My boyfriend made an enormous batch of this to give away as Christmas gifts for friends and relatives, it was FANTASTIC! We’ve decided to keep some on hand for ourselves during the winter months. Thank you so much for posting this :)

  167. Asya

    Thanks for your reply Deb! That initial mix did just now run out, and I’ve made another double batch this time. What I do is add cinnamon and a tiny pinch of cardamom to the almond milk while it’s heating up, add the mix, and then add an extra chopped-up square of extra dark chocolate. No clumps as long as I whisk continuously, and my boyfriend loves it!

  168. Sherri Taylor

    I too, love hot cocoa. You recipe sounds delicious. Regarding the lumps you get when you try to make hot cocoa from just cocoa and sugar, I have a helpful hint. Put your cocoa and sugar in a saucepan then add just a small amount of water, probably less than a tablespoon. Turn on the heat and stir. I usually just use a fork, but a wisk will do. The ingredients quickly turn to a liquid. Bring to a simmer and you will see you have a very smooth chocolate syrup. Add you milk and vanilla and voila, hot cocoa no lumps.

  169. Erin

    Nothing like a blizzard to bring on the need for a nice cup of cocoa! A little peppermint schnapps and we’re cozy as can be. Thanks so much, Deb!

  170. Christin

    I’m running out of my favorite mix, and decided to find one of my own. This turned out wonderfully!! So rich and delicious.

  171. Janie Dockus

    Forgive me if someone already asked this question…I would love to have a mix that I can just use my Kuerig and add not water to it…any suggestions in modifying this recipe for using hot water only??
    Thank you

  172. Tauna

    My son requested hot chocolate today and kept waiting and waiting, thinking I was going to heat up some milk with chocolate syrup. Finding your recipe made it a lot more interesting and totally worth the wait. Delish!

  173. Pamela Hanson

    Hi, and thank you for your wonderful website. Over the past year I have really begun to love cooking, and I am so thankful for your recipes and your photographs and stories! They are a real treat. I wanted to ask you how much a tiny piece of vanilla bean would be for the seeds? I know a more seasoned person would just ‘get’ this, but since I’m making this as a gift, and I want it to be the best ever, I wanted to ask. Thanks, and thanks again for all the time and love you put into smitten kitchen. =) Pam

  174. deb

    You could just use an inch of bean, or up to a 2-inch segment. I like to mention this because there often seems to be this idea that you can only use half or whole of a bean, which is expensive and there’s a lot of pure, excellent vanilla flavor even in a small scraping of a bean. And then one bean will last for many uses.

  175. Mel

    I absolutely love this, I have a bit of a hot chocolate obsession but never thought of making it myself (usually just grab the instant stuff). Lovely post, I also have the same glass, very nice.

  176. Shannon

    This mix is wonderful! It lets me have cocoa just like my mom makes every Christmas whenever I want and without having to commit to an entire vat. Thank you! I would like to send my deployed husband some, but he prefers white chocolate. I know a few other comments discussed making this with white chocolate, but I couldn’t tell if that would work or how to do so. Suggestions?

  177. Rebecca

    I got addicted to this over the winter, and since it’s already summer in Texas (midday highs pushing 90, this week) I’m now imagining it cooled, put it in a popsicle mold with a couple marshmallow floaters, and enjoyed for dessert on sweltering evenings. Oof.

  178. Jimm

    Deb – I’m looking to make this mix with some pumpkin spice mixed in for a fall gift. How much total spice would you add for a batch? Thanks in advance – this recipe is a family favorite!

  179. C

    I tried 2 variations from the CI recipe. I didn’t like the malted milk version but LOVE the Mexican one and plan to make that this weekend (half a batch; the other half plain, to mix with mmm Bailey’s). FWIW I prefer dark to bitter chocolate (and have a fierce sweet tooth).

  180. Buffy

    Mmmmm! Excellent recipe and gift ideas! This will be some gifts that are in my budget and FUN in the kitchen too! Thank You for the Super recipe and keep up the good work!!

  181. Carrie

    I love this mix and here’s my solution to the clumping cocoa issue, in case nobody already wrote this (and sorry to repeat if it’s already in the comments above.)
    I make it by the cup and not by the pan-ful. Put your cocoa mix in a mug and add 2-3 Tbsp of whatever milk you prefer (dairy milk or cream, soy, rice, coconut, almond) and stir into a smooth paste, adding a few more drops of milk if needed to get all the cocoa to dissolve. Use just enough milk to make the paste. Then add hot water to fill up the cup and stir some more. No cocoa clumps. I float a sliver of orange zest in it and top with whipped cream. Making this for teacher gifts this weekend.

  182. Lani S

    What proportions of chili powder, cinnamon, and Cayanne pepper does Cook’s illustrated recommend for the Mexican hot chocolate?
    Thank you!!

  183. Heather

    I have been trying and testing hot cocoa recipes for years trying to find something that I like as much as simply melting a bar of chocolate into milk in a saucepan (but sometimes a mix is just easier, amiright?). But nothing worked so far. Then last winter, our local coffee shop turned me on to Ghiradelli ground chocolate hot cocoa mix and it was wonderful! I ordered it in (what seems like) a gallon canister from Amazon. And then we ran out, and I thought “I need to try making cocoa mix with ground chocolate”. And that’s as far I got. So this is perfect timing and I’m so excited to try your recipe! Thank you thank you! Now to get a new food processor, since ours sadly broke.

  184. Heather

    I was wondering if making vanilla sugar (putting a vanilla bean in the sugar and letting it sit for a few days) would more evenly disperse the vanilla than just adding extract to the food processor. What do you think? Did you feel like the vanilla mixed evenly enough using the extract/beans in the processor? Thanks again!

  185. Gail

    I was looking for a hot cocoa mix to give my family as a Christmas gift. I did not the usual recipe with powdered milk. In my Google search I came upon this recipe. I made a batch it the cocoa was it wonderful!! The first time I made it I used dutch processed. The next batch I had to use regular cocoa although I did add a few tablespoons of black cocoa. I much prefer the dutch processed with Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips. I do have some vanilla powder which I will try the next time I make the recipe. Thanks again for this fabulous recipe. I do believe my grandchildren are going to love it!!!!

  186. Faith

    I made a batch of this tonight for a gift, but of course I had to try a glass first. This is divine- real grown-up hot chocolate. I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder and a high-quality semi-sweet chocolate chip for the 3 oz of chocolate. Since the chips already contain vanilla, I skipped that item. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly, and I love it! This yields a rich hot chocolate that is not too sweet. I heated a cup of milk in the microwave and then stirred in the 3 T mix and it came out perfect. Thank you for this recipe!

  187. Lynda

    Deb this is the second year in a row that I have given away your yummy hot chocolate mix as gifts. Plus we drank it heavily all winter long last year. I had some mint/chocolate chips left over after Christmas last year, so I used those and added peppermint extract instead of vanilla…wonderful.
    We’ve already been dipping into the mix this season…had to buy more marshmallows already. :) Thanks for the deliciousness!

  188. Kathy

    My 4- and 7- year old boys and I just made some batches for ourselves and teacher presents. My kids gave it rave reviews with semi-sweet chocolate. We used very warm but not hot milk and found a few little bits of chocolate goo at the bottom of our mugs but didn’t mind scooping them out with a spoon or fingers. Thanks for a present idea that doesn’t require me baking cookies for multiple days!

  189. Kati

    Thanks for the great recipe. I made 6 jars to give away as christmas presents. I used a little more cocoa and a little less sugar and put the chocolate in the freezer for a little while so it wouldn´t get too warm in the blender and become sticky.

  190. Christine

    Thanks for the recipe! Just found it while prepping for a New Year’s Day (2016!) brunch with friends tomorrow, and I look forward to whipping it up right after I post this thank-you note. By the way, you did say “marshmallow” 7 times in this cocoa post…sure you’re not a secret marshmallow spokesperson?! Cheers and happy New Year!

  191. Joanna

    If you mix cocoa powder directly into maple syrup it makes a smooth lump less syrup almost instantly. Then you just add hot liquid of your choice.

  192. Adrianne G.

    I made this tonight because May just can’t seem to warm up. And it was delicious! Though, note to self, add the vanilla extract at the end — I wound up with a lump in the bottom of the processor, but a sturdy knife scraped it up and I proceeded to pulverize to a powder. Decadent is right. Just the kind of hot cocoa I love. :)

  193. EL

    I have been making hot chocolate with semisweet guittard chips. I put a handful into my mug, add milk to cover plus a bit more, zap it for about a minute and a half. Then I mix it with a fork until there are no lumps, add enough milk to bring it up to the top of the mug and zap it until hot. It’s been perfect every time.

  194. Kelly

    I make this x10 and package it in 5.5oz plastic souffle cups (Smart n Final sells them with lids) filled with 6 tbs of finished mix and 10 mini marshmallows each. Your recipe x10 makes 36 two serving souffle cups. They make good gifts at work or stocking stuffers when you decorate them and attach a tag with instructions. I have a huge food processor so x5 is probably mac for a normal sized food processor.

    1. deb

      All are, really, but I want to make sure nobody mixed it up with cocoa mix for hot chocolate, which is sweetened and mixed with other ingredients.

  195. Dorothy Rackley

    HI Deb,

    A couple of questions.

    1. Why is this mix only good for up to two months? I assumed without the milk powder it would be okay for a year at least.

    2. Are you using dry vanilla/vanilla powder?

    I am so looking forward to making this tomorrow.

    Thank you!

    1. deb

      1. It will probably keep longer, but most recommendations I’ve found limit it to 2 months, so I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble. Did I find a jar 8 months later and make cocoa from it? Absolutely.
      2. I used extract. It’s such a small amount, it doesn’t make the mixture clump.

      Hope you enjoy it.

  196. krithikap11

    I made this last week, mostly because my favorite dark chocolate packaged cocoa wasn’t available in any of the stores. It was super quick to make, which is great! First couple of times I made this exactly as per the instructions: one cup milk plus one tablespoon hot chocolate mix simmered on the stove. It was good, but not as dark-chocolately as I’d like. Then last night I was too bored to fuss with saucepans and measuring cups, so I threw about a tablespoon and a half of the mix and approximately a cup of milk into a mug and microwaved it for 90 seconds. Sheer chocolate perfection! I think I might reduce the sugar just a touch next time.
    I was also wondering if I could make this without sugar at all so that people can add sugar substitutes and adjust to their taste if they want. I might try that as well!

  197. Anna

    Made 4 double batches today for gifts. 3 would have been fine, but I decided I needed a jar for myself, and since the IKEA jars I used looked a little scant, I topped them off with what didn’t fit in my jar. Finally enjoying a mug now that the baby has gone to sleep and it is just perfection. I think my family is going to be pretty happy to receive these!

  198. nancy hoekman


    Is it 3 teaspoons or 3 tablespoons? On your red tag instructions it looks like 3 teaspoons, but in the printed instructions you say 3 tablespoons.

  199. Joanie B

    Well, young lady, you have usurped my long-standing cocoa mix fave by Alton Brown (which I still mix up for treats for folks to use hot H20 at work :) ). This mix is simply perfect. I use TJ pound plus dark chocolate, a mix of mostly natural Hershey’s cocoa with a few spoons of Special Dark cocoa, and Sugar in the Raw. Microwave a cup of 1% Organic Valley milk til pretty warm, stir in the mix, zap a bit more. Seriously, cocoa heaven!! Thank you so much for the recipe!


    Can I leave out the cornstarch for a friend who is allergic to all corn products? I normally make the typical stovetop hot chocolate – cocoa/sugar/pinch salt/vanilla mix too & am intrigued. Thanks!

  201. This is delicious! I recently tried the Cook’s Illustrated recipe and surprising enough it just wasn’t a good fit for me. Overly rich and a little too bitter, plus I had trouble with clumps. So next I tried your recipe because I saw it was tweaked from the CI recipe and yours is perfection! Rich, but not too rich, and a perfect balance of bitter and sweet. I mix it up with 1/2 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup water and it’s perfectly rich and creamy. Top it off with a homemade peppermint marshmallow and you have hot chocolate perfection!

  202. One note. The Cook’s Illustrated recipe does not include dry milk as a substitute for actual milk. The directions for making a cup call for whole milk if possible, and do not ever mention subbing water. Clearly, though, for non-consumers of dairy products, full non-dairy is the way to go.

  203. Shannon

    Can’t believe I just got around to making this! Didn’t see anyone else mention it but I think the mix is perfect made with water. Dissolves smoothly and has just the right amount of body. Thank you for another great recipe!

  204. segev

    i love you
    i love you
    i love you
    i live in israel and…i have no idea what all this tbs…ounce…finally a recipe with grams…finally ❤

  205. Sharon

    I made this recipe this morning to see if I wanted to bring to my daughter’s house for Thanksgive for my cocoa loving Granddaughter. I didn’t use my food processor but did wisk everything together , except the chopped chocolate, to get rid of any lumps and to make sure it was mixed well. I just stirred in the chopped chocolate. Everything dissolved and there were no lumps. The rest of the mix is definitely coming with me.

  206. I made this as a gift for a friend! I used a nutribullet instead of a food processor because I don’t have one, and it worked great. I blended it a little too much at first, and the heat melted the cocoa butter and caused solid chocolate chunks to reform. So I just cooled it down in the fridge for a bit and reblended, and it was fine.

  207. Kristy

    My brother in law doesn’t like chocolate, but loves white chocolate. I experimented and went with this recipe, subbing in white chocolate for semi sweet, malted milk powder plus non dairy powdered creamer for coco powder, and no added sugar because that is all so sweetened already. Add in the vanilla bean paste. Yummy! Now I can make the “real chocolate” for me!

  208. Sarah

    Is it 3 teaspoons or 3 tablespoons of mix per cup of milk? I’m confused by the comments and the picture with the red tag and want I make sure I get it right! Looks delicious! This will be perfect for our family. Some eat dairy, others don’t.

  209. Andi

    Thank you! Just made this for the first time last night, and it was so easy to whip together! Cute little jars are full and ready to be tagged and given to people who need small gifts, like my daughter’s teacher. And also it’s totally delicious. And also dairy free! Win, win, win!

  210. Lucinda

    Thank you for this – I’m on my way to 27 bottles for teacher and family gifts. I highly recommend using the 100g flavoured Lindt chocolate bars – a little extra chocolate in the mix and the flavours come out really well. Dark raspberry is best so far but have also used dark versions of salted caramel, mint, super dark and will try orange today. Thanks again!

  211. I like your variation on the Cook’s Illustrated recipe. We made this in quantity (20 pints) for holiday gifts. By far the most popular variation was the spicy Mexican version which I adapted from the CI recipe. For your proportions above, add:

    1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder

    The ancho chilis (ground poblano peppers) give it a deep flavor without adding heat. We played with the amount of cayenne to find one that gives some spiciness without being too much when combined with the physical heat of the drink itself.

    1. A blender might be OK for very small batches but the big problem would likely be the very fast blades heating up and melting the dark chocolate bits. I blade type spice grinder might work for small amounts and avoid the heating issue, but a food processor works best. You can usually find inexpensive used ones on Craig’s List or at yard sales. Mine is 30 years old, built like a tank, has a few cracks but works well and cost me $5 at at yard sale.

    2. Emily R

      You might also have more luck if you try freezing the chocolate before blending it in order to help mitigate the melting issue. I saw Kenji Lopez Alt mentioned this in his similar recipe on Serious Eats/the Food Lab.

  212. Molly

    I’m very confused by the grams in this recipe. A 1/2 Cup of cocoa weighed just 14 grams on my food scale, and 85 g of chocolate required several dark chocolate candy bars…help!

    1. Hi Molly,

      My guess is that your conversions are a bit off. There are 28.32 grams in an ounce, or if you round up for easy conversation, about 30 grams. A standard Hershey’s chocolate bar – though I would never cook with it – is 4.4 ounces or about 125 grams, so the 85g specified in the recipe would be about 2/3 of one standard size bar.

      Regarding Cocoa Powder, I just took out my digital scale and measured 1/2 cup of Callebaut Cocoa powder, less the weight of the measuring cup, at 63 grams. That’s a bit heavier than the 40 grams Deb lists. Checking several sources online, I find weight ranges for 1 cup cocoa powder (no brand specified) between 100g and 125g. Callebaut is one of the very best and may be somewhat denser. Deb may wish to increase that weight some…


      1. I’ll also add, for anyone who might wish to make this recipe in quantity as we do for holiday gifts (21 pint Mason jars so far) I would recommend considering purchasing the 5kg (11 pound) bag of Callebaut Cocoa Powder available at Amazon and elsewhere. At just under $100 for 11 pounds it’s some of the very best Cocoa powder you can buy – deep, rich, complex flavor – and at $9/pound is a great buy. I usually sell a few pounds to friends for their baking but this year I think most of the bag is going into Cocoa mix, our biggest year yet.

  213. Emily R

    I wanted to make little holiday gift favours for some friends and settled on hot chocolate mix and homemade marshmallows. My boyfriend and I dutifully I tested out this recipe, Alton Brown’s hot chocolate mix, and Kenji’s Serious Eats hot chocolate mix. This one was my favourite and the winner! The Serious Eats one was a close second when I bumped it up to 2-3 Tbsp (1-2 tsp doesn’t seem like a fair comparison to the 3 Tbsp here, haha). The ingredients and proportions are quite similar between the two recipes so that makes sense. Anyways, thanks for sharing your rich and delicious hot chocolate mix recipe and I hope my gift recipients enjoy it as much as I do :)

  214. CS

    Made this THREE times in the span of two weeks! :-P First and third batches turned out very well, second batch was a glob. With the second batch I weighed ingredients vs hand measured, I was a little over on some of the weights but not a ton and this recipe wasn’t goin’ for that, it clearly wanted precision measuring. I left the globby, coagulated mess to sit out over night, added about 2 to 3 more Tbs of sugar the next morning and whizzed it again and it was totally fine. We now have a surplus of hot chocolate, said no one, ever…. The first batch I made in the Vitamix which worked very well. Used Trader Joe’s 72% big, dark choc. bar.

  215. Margie

    This hot chocolate mix is amazingly delicious. Smooth, deep rich chocolatey flavor – everything a hot chocolate should be and more. I make a double batch each time and keep it in a quart canning jar. Also made some to give as gifts. Excellent recipe!

  216. Racquel

    This hot chocolate is so creamy, delicious, and amazingly nostalgic. It’s going to be my go-to hot coco recipe for my family from now on.

  217. Sharon

    I am late to discovering this fabulous homemade hot cocoa and am “smitten” (pun intended) with it! Small adjustments to this fabulous recipe are: I am using 1/2 bittersweet and 1/2 semi-sweet baking chocolate, 1/2 sugar and 1/2 Stevia in the raw (to cut down on sugar calories), and adding 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper to the mix (to give my spicy loving self a kick). Mere mortals may want to start with 1/8 tsp cayenne and see how that suits them. I will NEVER purchase commercial hot cocoa again! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  218. Hannah

    Hi Deb. Love your recipes and your writing! I cook a lot and I think everything I’ve made of yours has been excellent. Anyway. I was regularly buying overpriced gourmet hot chocolate mix and the place closed. After googling a few recipes yours looked the best and reasonably uncomplicated so I attempted it tonight. Do you mean add 3 tsp not 3 tbsp to one cup of milk? 3 tbsp sounds like a ton. I tried with 3 tsp and it wasn’t quite enough. I added a fourth tsp and it was intensely richly perfect and satisfied my chocolate craving perfectly. Thank you!

    1. deb

      I did mean 3 teaspoons but there’s no reason not to use more if you prefer your hot chocolate more intense than I do. It’s definitely flexible!

      1. Erika

        Deb, Love so many if your recipes ours is a “smitten with Deb kitchen!” Thanks for your hard work. Making this chocolate mix today but your directions still say to add 3 tablespoons to one cup of milk. Yes? Or 3 teaspoons? I want to add directions to the gift jars. Thanks again!

            1. Rachel W

              3 tablespoons of mix per cup milk in the original recipe, 3 teaspoons in this reader question, which you replied to (with ‘I did mean 3 teaspoons’). I have the same question! Just made it with 3 tablespoons and it was delightful but now wondering if I should feel like a glutton, haha

  219. Cynthia A Robinson

    I have GOT to give this a try. I recently had a favorite that I bought …but…the company discontinued it… so sad!

    I am so glad it is dark chocolate, and there is no powdered milk. I use Laird Unsweetened Creamer which is a super healthy creamer substitute.


  220. lexi

    This is the most fabulous hot chocolate EVER! It’s autumn in Scotland at the moment and I can’t wait for my next outdoor swim to have this in my flask waiting to heat me up afterwards!

    1. deb

      Wow, I’ve never made one before but I’m honestly not sure because this mixture benefits from whisked into milk a little at a time so no lumps form.

  221. Liz

    I’m wondering if anyone has tried to make this using a sugar substitute. I’d like to make this as part of a gift basket for my daughter’s diabetic in-laws. I have no experience with. Cooking for a diabetic. Thanks for any help!

  222. Anne Parker

    This looks great for gifts for several friends. Thank you! I have cacao powder on hand. Any idea how that might work? From what little I read, it’s a little stronger.

  223. TL

    We made this using half semi sweet choc chips and half Ghirardelli bittersweet choc chips. (I didn’t pre chop I just threw them into the food processor first and chopped them that way. I had Pure Vanilla bean paste from Mexico and used that. Dissolved 2 tbsp with some boiling water then topped up with steamed milk from our frother. Absolutely delicious. Will be gifting some for sure this year. Thank you

  224. ElleK

    I also used TJ’s bittersweet choc bar and made a X6 batch for gifts (in a food processor). I mixed all the regular dry + vanilla first and then removed to a bowl and grated all the chocolate. I had so much that I had to remove some of the grated chocolate to the dry ingredient bowl and then remixed (in processor) in batches until it was all thoroughly mixed. Next time…just a 5x batch. I’ve been using 3 TBL of mix per 8 oz of milk..made on the stove. I think it’s the perfect combination of chocolate but not sweet and cloying. I think even 3-4 teas would not be enough, but that’s just me. The mini marshmallows on top add the sweetness.

  225. Christine

    I just made this but did a twist… I added 3/4 cup of peanut butter powder (PB2) for a chocolate peanut butter cup style hot cocoa. My 14 year old likes it!

    1. deb

      I love Dutched cocoa powder — it’s darker and tastes more rich to me. When I can, I splurge on Valrhona. When I can’t, Droste is great. But Hershey’s special dark is nothing to sneeze at, either. I use it for baking where a non-Dutched cocoa is called for.

  226. Miriam

    Your Decadent Hot Chocolate recipe is delicious! I gifted it to friends for Christmas and kept a stash for myself. Over this past weekend I whipped up a batch of meringue cookies and dumped in a heaping measure of the Decadent Hot Chocolate mix. Needless to say it made the meringues extra special and a pretty color too:)

  227. Rebecca Strong

    Any ideas on how to decrease the sugar? My boyfriend and both of his boys are diabetic so we try and keep sugar to a minimum, but I have been unable to find a sugar-free mix or recipe that looks good.

  228. Bonnie

    Ok…. so I skipped the chopped chocolate part and just mixed up the rest and used it to fill hot chocolate bomb shells with homemade marshmallows….and it was the bomb!

  229. Jim Buchanan

    I read recently that “dutched” cocoa powder–the very dark, alkali-processed stuff–dissolves significantly easier (which is why it appears in certain chocolate cake and brownie recipes). Are you aware anyone using this in hot cocoa for a more easily mixable time of it?

    1. deb

      I haven’t read about it dissolving more quickly, no, I figure that’s about the grind. But I use it here in the photographed version. I use it in baking because I prefer the deeper flavor, however.

  230. This is such a great solution for making hot chocolate that really tastes like chocolate AND can be mostly made ahead of time. I was making this in bulk last winter and giving it away. Thanks!

  231. Emily Carman

    This looks like the perfect, easy to do but thoughtful holiday gift to make for neighbors and friends this month – may I ask, how much of the batch recipe you provide here would go into a weck juice jar? Would it be the entire one, or can I divide them up per Weck jar ( in order words how would you recommend if we want to make up a set of 4 for gifts). Thank you for your wonderful recipes – as a working mom I have come to have a new appreciation of all your delicious, but streamlined recipes

  232. Aurora Gandara

    So the 24 hr Starbucks closes at 11 pm now. I was craving a hot chocolate ( bad night at work and I needed a chocolate hug) so I went to see what Deb had for hot cocoa . So much better than the CI recipe ( we made that last winter) . I had a 4 Oz bar of bittersweet so I increased everything by a third ( a third of half a cup is 2 tblsp + 2 tsp) I did not have whipped cream or marshmallows so I made it adult with a splash of amaretto. Just a smidge but my evening is looking oh so much brighter. Going to make more when this runs out. Thankseverso !

  233. Patt

    I just made this for the second year in a row. As always, easy directions.
    What I changed –
    Used 4 oz semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate and 1 block of Abuelita Hot chocolate (3,2 oz)
    Added 2 1/3 c dry NF milf powder because I like to stir mine into coffee.
    What happened –
    Too sweet for me, but I prefer more bitter less sweet.
    I do like the tiny hint of cinnamon
    Changes to my changes –
    Reduce sugar by at least 1/4 cup
    Make it with the full amount of semi-sweet and add a teensy pinch of cinnamon
    Use a darker chocolate – 63-70% and the Abuelita.

    No matter what, my coffee with cocoa is going to be awesome.

  234. Kathie

    I made 4 batches of this yesterday for some last minute gifts (and some for me!) It’s beyond decadent! Then, for fun (and because my daughter is a white chocolate peppermint fan), I made another couple batches subbing white chocolate for the bittersweet and peppermint extract for the vanilla. Also really good!!