Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hot-Cocoa Days

Wintry weather is upon us in most of the nation. Even here in Los Angeles, it's brisk and cold, with gusts of wind making it even chillier.

You could nip into one of those chain-store coffee houses and buy an overpriced cup of hot cocoa to take the frost off your nose.

I've been known to do that, sure.

But the prices! To pay $3.50 or even $3 for something that costs about 35 cents to make? It staggers the mind. Think how much money each of us could save if we stopped going for just one year to these establishments. One year of, say, a daily $3 drink, and let's say 300 times a year (to account for those odd days you don't go). That's $900. That's a lot of change.

All that money that could be going into a 401K or your child's college tuition or your emergency fund or paying down that student loan.

It frosts me. It should frost you!

So, to warm up--and to save a ton of money--try this. It's the best cup of cocoa you'll ever drink. You can make it at home for pennies, and you don't even need to dirty a sauce pan.

Into a tall mug, add:
1 tbsp. good-quality cocoa powder--Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, Droste, or even ol' Hershey's
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

Stir these together with a spoon, then add a spoonful of water or milk to make a paste. Stir until smooth. Add a cup of milk and stir again. If you want, add some mini-marshmallows or two large marshmallows, and microwave for 90 seconds.

Remove from microwave, stir in 1/4 tsp. of vanilla extract, and enjoy. If you want to, of course you can add whipped cream on top.

And drizzle chocolate sauce on top of that. And add a candy cane. To stir with, of course.

Because, after all, it's a free country.


  1. Juli- love this, it's freezing in Michigan! Droste and Valrhona are my favorite cocoa powders! Plus I love adding all those extra goodies, it makes it more special! Have you made homemade marshmallows? They would be fab with that Valrhona chocolate! We have been so spoiled with the homemade kind, no one eats the bagged variety anymore! A little work, but worth it. You get tons of marshmallows and way cheaper than purchasing them from a shop!

  2. I haven't been brave enough to try making marshmallows from scratch. Maybe it's time....Got a recipe you wouldn't mind sharing? Stay warm!

  3. Here is a Marshmallow recipe and a Gingerbread Latte recipe from my 2009 "Gifts from your Kitchen" Cooking Class-Enjoy!

    3 – ¼ oz. envelopes unflavored gelatin
    ¾ cup water
    2 cups sugar
    1 cup light corn syrup
    ¾ cup water
    ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

    Pour water into bowl of stand mixer and add gelatin packets and attach whisk.

    In a medium saucepan boil sugar, corn syrup, salt and ¾ cup water over medium heat without stirring until it reaches 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. With your mixer on low speed, pour the sugar mixture into gelatin in a slow, thin stream. Add the vanilla and carefully increase the speed to high. Beat until mixture has thickened and cooled, about 5 minutes.

    Line a 13X9 pan with foil and dust with powdered sugar. Pour marshmallows into pan and dust with powdered sugar. Let sit at room temperature until set, about 2 hours.

    Use a sharp knife dipped in cold water before making each cut. Roll in a bit of powdered sugar to keep blocks from being too sticky.


    ½ cup instant espresso powder
    ¼ cup sugar
    ½ teaspoon each nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

    Blend all in small bowl and package! Include instructions: Blend 2 teaspoons coffee mix with 1 cup hot milk and a marshmallow on top!

  4. I made marshmallows last winter with Lillet--they were so very good. Gave them a bit of a grown up flavor and made them interesting to eat plain, no hot chocolate necessary.

  5. Really? I have a bottle of Lillet in my fridge ALWAYS- would love the measurements...booze and sugar, yum.

  6. It's a Gourmet recipe I found on Epicurious a while back:

    The "batter" is incredibly gooey and sticky, but it dries to a nice soft-but-not-gummy marshmallow.

  7. Its SO cold here, too...I'm putting these brands of cocoa on my shopping list! Your pictures are absolutely lip-smaking beautiful -- I just wish I could 'do' chocolate, but I'll have the ingredients on hand for holiday company. Yum! (I recently heard of a wonderful white hot chocolate powder for people with IC, but somehow I don't think it would be quite the same -- love white chocolate English toffee, but can't quite imagine a white chocolate drink)



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