Winter Warrants Warm Beverages

Hot cocoa: making the most of my milk.

Whether it’s coffee, tea, or some sort of espresso drink, I’m a fan of warm beverages. However, one of my favorites, and one I can make with Sienna’s milk, is hot cocoa. I love this chocolatey, creamy drink that is a good alternative to coffee, especially when I’m cutting back on caffeine.

When I have too much milk, I will sometimes make hot cocoa for my whole family and use up the better part of a gallon. 

As I write this, it is a dreary, cold, rainy day in East Texas, only 38 degrees outside — good weather for a cup of hot chocolate. However, yesterday it was sunny and 77. So, yes, winter is usually a good time for hot drinks, but winter here is not consistent. 

Obviously, there are different ways to make hot cocoa. If you want quick and easy, you can pour milk and chocolate syrup into a mug and heat it in the microwave. I don’t do this, because I don’t like it this way. Also, I try and use the microwave as little as possible. (Yes, I’m one of those people.) By the way, using a packet of Swiss Miss in hot water is not even worth calling hot cocoa, so let’s not go there.

Combining the ingredients on the stove is worth the extra effort.

My way? I heat cocoa and milk in a saucepan on the stove. I’ve learned the trick is to add the cocoa first into the pot with just a little bit of milk and stir it vigorously with a whisk until it’s mostly dissolved. Then measure out and add the rest of the milk. (If you add cocoa on top of all the cold milk, you’ll have a difficult time getting it to dissolve.) Stir often until the milk is heated, and then pour into your cup(s). I then add sugar and vanilla. This is my usual combo. However, there are lots of variations that I also like.

I’ve melted chocolate in the pot instead of using cocoa. Instead of adding vanilla, I’ve sprinkled cinnamon in with the cocoa (so they dissolve together) for a cinnamon hot chocolate. Instead of sugar, you can add some Irish cream. Rum is another alcoholic addition that’s tasty in hot chocolate. You can also add a little bit of mint flavoring for a peppermint hot cocoa. 

I add a little powdered sugar and vanilla before beating the whipping cream.

Regardless of how I make it, I usually also like to add a hefty helping of whipped cream on the top. Yes, you can add marshmallows, but I prefer whipped cream. And I’m talking about real whipped cream that you have to beat. 

You can even make hot cocoa in a French press.

I tried a new way of making hot cocoa this week with my French press. Here’s the link to it. I used crushed cacao beans, because I had some on hand. However, I actually think just chopped bittersweet chocolate would have been better. 

I’ll include my usual recipe now. This is for just one mug, but feel free to double, triple, etc.

Homemade Hot Cocoa

  • 1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa (plus just a tad more)
  • 2 cups of whole milk (more or less, depending on your mug size)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • Sugar to taste
  • Whipped cream for topping (optional)

Combine cocoa with a little bit of the milk in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Whisk vigorously until dissolved. Add remainder of milk, and heat until almost boiling. Remove from heat, pour into mug, add vanilla and sugar. Heap on whipped cream and enjoy! 

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