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Hot Cocoa Mix· GF (10 servings)

Some people knock Hot Cocoa as if it’s just a “diet” version of Hot Chocolate. But why pit two uniquely delicious beverages against each other? They both have their place. Hot chocolate’s best enjoyed with a spoon— a luxurious, liquid dessert. But Hot Cocoa’s more along the lines of an afternoon latte, a wintery pick-me-up that won’t derail dinner.

This is my go-to cocoa mix, and I usually make a big batch so I can share with friends (usually along with a bag of fluffy marshmallows and a candy cane). You can use this mix just like you’d use the kind you buy at the store, so keep a jar stashed in the pantry and be ready for it to disappear faster than expected.

homemade hot cocoa mix

White chocolate gives the Hot Cocoa a silky mouth feel and satisfying richness, while the coffee powder helps tame the overall sweetness. Both play an essential role, so even if you don’t fancy yourself a white chocolate fan or coffee aficionado, don’t leave ‘em out! On the other hand, if you don’t have a vanilla bean, it’s a-okay to skip it and add a drop of vanilla extract to each mug instead.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, complete the Swiss Miss instant cocoa vibe by mixing in some crispy marshmallows, cut into small cubes.

Hot Cocoa Mix, enough for 10 servings

5 ounces powdered sugar
2 3/4 ounces white chocolate, broken into pieces
1 1/2 ounces cocoa powder
1 1/4 ounces dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

optional: crispy or fluffy marshmallows

Combine the powdered sugar, white chocolate, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, vanilla bean seeds and coffee powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks powdery and fine.

To prevent the mixture from turning into a paste, rather than a powder, don’t run the processor continuously, and pause if the bowl begins to feel warm to the touch.

Transfer the ground cocoa mix to an airtight container (I like to tuck the empty vanilla bean inside the jar so it can keep perfuming the cocoa). The cocoa mix will store indefinitely at room temperature.

To prepare one mug of cocoa: bring 6 ounces of milk, soy milk, or coconut milk to a boil, then add 1 ounce cocoa mix (about 3 Tablespoons), and stir until completely dissolved. To adjust the flavor, add more cocoa mix or dilute with milk until you find the balance you like best.

To serve a crowd: to determine how much milk you’ll need, multiply the number of servings by 6 oz. For the cocoa mix itself, you’ll need 1 ounce per serving. Bring the milk to a simmer in a stainless steel pot (along with the reserved vanilla pod, if you like). Once it begins to bubble, add the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Transfer to a pitcher or thermos, then portion into mugs.


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Any questions?

Dec 10, 2011 ·  1:28 PM

Is the recipe yield approx. 1/2 pound of cocoa mix? This is a great holiday gift idea!!

 · amanda · 

Dec 10, 2011 ·  7:34 PM

This sounds really tasty. Way better than any of the powdered stuff! I think I’m going to go make some now..

 · BigFatBaker ·

Dec 11, 2011 ·  5:11 AM

Ok, I got violently ill a couple of weeks ago after consuming hot cocoa… so it’ll be awhile before I can enjoy it again without getting gag-gy. But as soon as I can, you know I’ll be making this!

 · Cathy @ Savory Notes ·

Dec 11, 2011 ·  8:12 AM

This would be great as a hostess gift for a holiday party. Just put it in a pretty jar with a ribbon. Thanks for the idea and the recipe!

 · Mom de Cuisine ·

Dec 11, 2011 · 10:34 AM

For a friend, I added two dried hot chili peppers to the mix. Then I kept some for myself!

 · char · 

Dec 11, 2011 ·  1:48 PM

@Amanda, I can make as much as a quadruple batch in my food processor at work (though it’s just a standard size one like you’d have at home) if you need to make a bunch for gift giving. You can also toss in a few candy canes to give it a hint of peppermint.

@BigFatBaker, yeah, I had some of the packet stuff recently at an event I attended recently. It was so awful, I couldn’t believe that I grew up drinking it all the time…

@Cathy, oh that is the worst! I had a truffle burger once and got super sick afterwards, I still can’t handle truffles. Hope the bad cocoa memories leave you soon!! (But at least it doesn’t get too chilly in LA…

@Mom de Cuisine, I’ve given a few jars away this year. I tied the jars with a ribbon and a Christmas ornament. They were pretty dang cute.

@char, such a good add in! I love having cocoa with a kick! I’m sure your friend was thrilled; way to get into the Christmas spirit.


Dec 11, 2011 ·  3:01 PM

Perfect! Sounds great and I am sure it’s so much better than the bought stuff

 · Kiri W. ·

Dec 12, 2011 · 10:10 AM

Whoa, that list of ingredients is AWESOME! I made some hot cocoa this weekend, from the standard: powdered milk, cocoa powder, blah blah blah. This puts that to SHAME! I need to make this, STAT!

 · Julia ·

Dec 12, 2011 · 12:22 PM

@Kiri, much, much better.

@Julia, milk powder will certainly get the job done when it comes to giving the mix some body, but white chocolate gives sweetness and a nice milky vanilla note, so yeah. It’s my go to base for cocoas. Hope you give it a shot!


Dec 16, 2011 ·  7:23 PM

If someone gave me this for a gift I would love them forever. For sure.
I’m giving out espresso caramels and English toffee this year, but I may need to add this to my roster!

 · Terris @ Free Eats ·

Dec 17, 2011 ·  4:12 PM

@Terris, I just love homemade gifts. The world is filled with so much mass produced stuff that giving something you actually made seems really special to me. Happy holidays!


Dec 06, 2013 ·  5:12 PM

OK, this is my holiday cookie baking extravaganza weekend, for which I’m also making hot fudge and salted caramel sauce to give as presents. You just added another to-do to my list! I have some ground vanilla beans from Beanilla that would be perfect for this.

 · trav45 · 

Dec 08, 2013 ·  6:52 PM

Hi trav45! Oh, man, I looove Beanilla. Sounds like a great use for the ground beans, hope you enjoy the mix!


Dec 09, 2013 · 11:24 AM

Thanks for this! What a wonderful (and dare I say, easy) gift! And it’s also a great excuse to make marshmallows, which are one of my favorite Christmastime “to-do’s”!

 · Allison · 

Dec 09, 2013 ·  4:51 PM

Can you tell me what brand of gelatin you use to make your marshmallows? Thanks!

 · Jessica · 

Dec 09, 2013 ·  7:00 PM

@Allison, yes! I don’t post too many easy recipes around here, but this is one of ‘em!

@Jessica, at home, I usually go for the grocery store brand (Kroger, in my neck of the woods). Knox would be my go-to national brand, though.


Dec 11, 2013 ·  7:09 PM

Do you have a good substitute for the dry mix in place of white chocolate? I’d love to give this to some people who don’t tolerate milk well. I can only think to up the vanilla bean and/or powdered sugar amounts, but what about you?

 · Kate ·

Dec 11, 2013 · 11:52 PM

Hi Kate! You might try calling around to local groceries or gourmet shops and see if anyone carries vegan white chocolate, which would be lactose free. There are two brands that I know of, King David and Oppenheimer— if you can’t find ‘em in stores, you can easily order them online! Hope that helps.


Dec 12, 2013 ·  8:21 PM

oh! I didn’t know such a thing existed. thank you!

 · Kate ·

Dec 14, 2013 · 12:24 PM

If you can’t find one of those brands, look for “white chips” at the grocery store. These are supposed to be white chocolate chips, but you’ll notice a conspicuous lack of actual chocolate in the ingredients list. I wonder if this type of “fake chocolate” might also be dairy free too (because they cut corners by leaving out cocoa butter, I wonder if they also cut corners and leave out dairy!). This may be an “accidentally” vegan alternative, though I don’t have a bag on hand to check.

In the absence of true white chocolate, the sugar and vegetable fat in that White Chips would be a good alternative for adding a sweet, creamy texture to the mix. Of course, take a close peek at the ingredients list to be sure it's vegan friendly.


Dec 14, 2013 ·  1:57 PM

Just made a double batch with 3/4 the sugar – delicious! I used white candy melts from the bulk section of my grocery, 90% dark chocolate & instant espresso powder (what we had in the house) and I wouldn’t change a thing – though it might be slightly more ‘adult’ than I would’ve liked when I was 12. Thanks for another great recipe, Stella!

 · Jenny K. · 

Dec 16, 2013 ·  1:02 AM

Thanks for this recipe Stella! I wanted to make hot cocoa but not the typical cocoa-sugar-milk recipe. This should hit the spot! Could I use milk chocolate instead of white chocolate?

 · Tricia · 

Dec 16, 2013 · 12:33 PM

I am so excited to make this! Quick question though— Can I put milk powder in it as well? I was thinking it might be easier for people to just use water as in the packets.

 · Allison · 

Dec 16, 2013 ·  8:47 PM

@Jenny, hoo-boy! With less sugar and 90% chocolate, I bet it was a little on the grown up side!! Nothing a marshmallow or two can’t balance out. So happy you enjoyed, and I’m glad to hear the candy melts worked out. I was telling someone recently they might be a good option for a vegan variation (depending on the brand, of course).

@Tricia, I bet milk chocolate would work fabulously! If you give it a shot, let me know how you like it compared to the original.

@Allison, I think that would work out just fine. What you’d need to do is figure out how much powdered milk is needed per serving, then multiply that by 10. That should give you the amount needed to cover the recipe above. That will change the amount of “mix” needed per mug, but if you’ve got a scale you can just weigh out the whole batch and divide it by 10. Does that make sense? Let me know if you have any other questions!


Dec 22, 2013 ·  8:29 PM

I ordered vanilla beans but they haven’t arrived in time for me to make this for a gift for some friends. I don’t know if they have vanilla extract to put in the mug (and yet they’re still my friends). I was wondering if I could use vanilla powder instead, and if so, how much per batch?

 · DavidWL · 

Dec 26, 2013 ·  3:42 PM

Hi DavidWL. I’m sorry to respond so late, I’d been away from my blog through the holidays. I hoe you were able to figure out a solution in the meantime, but for future reference Vanilla powder’s a great option. I don’t use it often myself, but the label may indicate how much is needed to equal one bean. I’d imagine a teaspoon or two….


Dec 26, 2013 ·  9:21 PM

Thanks. I went to the store for vanilla powder(assumed you’d say it would be fine to use). Luckily, surprisingly, they sold giant, plump vanilla beans so I obviously bought what I needed despite their crazy pricetag…I mean, who can resist a container full of vanilla beans. Pure heaven!
And that cocoa recipe is so great on a cold winter night.
Hope you had a great Christmas.

 · DavidWL · 

Dec 30, 2013 · 12:59 PM

Oh, that’s great to hear! Even more surprising that the beans were nice, usually at the store they’re all withered and dry. So glad you enjoyed!


Jan 02, 2014 ·  6:39 PM

Yummy! I gave in to using the white chocolate when I saw a beautiful Green & Black’s bar at Whole Foods. Even though it’s hot cocoa, it’s still creamy and rich. Much better than the thin and grainy hot cocoa I used to make. I love all the vanilla seeds that collect at the bottom of the mug. You get to taste the vanilla by itself. Is there anyway to make it more chocolatey?

 · Tricia · 

Jan 03, 2014 ·  9:35 PM

Hi Tricia! Aw, nice. Green & Black’s is one of my favorites. Someone asked recently about using a milk chocolate instead of white. If you found a nice milk with a good vanilla note, it would play the role of white chocolate (adding creamy sweetness and vanilla) while amping up the chocolate flavor too. Alternately, you could up the cocoa content just a bit, to get a deeper chocolate flavor.


Jan 05, 2014 ·  3:40 PM

Happy New Year Stella … I enjoy your recipes, and your writing style which I find most informative and beautiful. What changes would you make to this hot cocoa recipe if it were to be mixed with hot water vs hot milk?

 · Carolyn · 

Jan 07, 2014 ·  9:59 AM

Hi Carolyn! Are you leaving out the milk because of lactose intolerance/veganism/calories, or for simplicity sake? If you’re just trying to simplify things— scroll up a bit. I’ve got some info in the comments about using milk powder in the mix; you’d just need to be aware that it would change the serving size. Let me know if that answers your question or not.


Jan 10, 2014 ·  8:07 PM

Hi Stella … thanks for your reply! I’d like to make hot cocoa @ work where hot water is preferable to heating milk in the microwave. How much milk powder would you suggest I add to your recipe above, and would you change the amount of the white chocolate or any other ingredients?

 · Carolyn · 

Jan 17, 2014 ·  1:46 PM

Hi Carolyn, gotcha! Sorry for the delayed response. You’ll want to add 10 servings’ worth of milk powder, just check the bag to see what constitutes a serving. I wouldn’t change anything else! After mixing it all up, weigh the mix and divide by 10 to see what the new serving size will be.


Jan 17, 2014 ·  8:07 PM

Thank you for advising on the addition of the milk powder, Stella. I bet it will taste divine!

 · Carolyn · 

Jun 19, 2014 · 10:41 AM

thank you thank you, you save my day! my hubby loves it with a drop of vanilla extract, while me, am enjoying my hot cocoa with cardamom. sometimes mix it with a dash of cinnamon powder (and stir with cinnamon stick), and sometimes add slices of ginger. next i wanna try to add almond extract or clove. with only 1 cocoa mix i can make different hot cocoa, heaven!

 · dianandariskia ·

Jun 25, 2014 ·  9:58 AM

Hi dianandariskia! I’m so glad you two are customizing the cocoa to your liking, a bit of ginger sounds like an intriguing variation. Thanks for stopping by to share your success and experiments.


Jan 10, 2015 ·  8:53 PM

I made this as part of a Christmas gift and put it in jars this year – it is delicious! I also got to keep all the leftover mix for myself! Not only is the recipe delicious, but I was very glad that there wasn’t any evaporated milk, since I don’t drink milk myself (soy and coconut milk both work well). I will say, that I used half of the coffee that was called for (I hate coffee) and I could still taste it. Maybe next time I will try 1/4 or 1/3 of what is called for. Luckily, the coffee is nicely masked if you add some crushed candy cane powder. :]

 · amanda · 


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