Guess what kids… it’s still winter.
At least it is here in Upstate New York. While the temperatures are supposed to hit a “balmy” 40 degrees this week, there is still a decent blanket of snow and ice covering everything on my little farm.
While the terms “hot chocolate” and “hot cocoa” might seem interchangeable, they are indeed different things. The dividing line between the two is, most simply, one uses cocoa powder while one uses melted chocolate. Hot cocoa “mix” can be made ahead of time in bulk and be stirred into hot water (or milk) to constitute the drink. Personally, I am more of a hot chocolate lass – the rich consistency does it for me. Winter isn’t over yet, so you still have plenty of time to test both options and decide your own preference.
RECIPE: HOT CHOCOLATE
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract*
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon* (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it is hot and slightly frothy. Whisk in the chocolate and sugar, and continue to whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper (if using). Serve immediately and top with whipped cream (or add a little homemade Irish Cream for an adult kick, or flavor with homemade coffee creamer).
*Steep a cinnamon stick and split vanilla bean in the hot chocolate for 5-7 minutes on low heat instead.
RECIPE: HOT COCOA MIX
Makes 5 ½ cups mix
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2 ½ cups powdered milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Hot water or milk
Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together until well incorporated. Keep in an airtight container. When read to use, fill a mug halfway with hot cocoa mix, then add hot water or milk and stir slowly until mix is dissolved. Top with marshmallows.