Monday, December 9, 2013

Simple Things: Hot Chocolate

One of my objectives for my get-well/pre-retirement period is to eat well.

I've recently started reading The UnDiet by Meghan Telpner. Part cookbook and part self-help book, it is an engaging read. It highlights some of the problems with modern processed ingredients (not just processed foods) and the fact that the processing often strips away the "micronutrients" leaving behind the macronutrients like protein and carbohydrates. Then the micronutrients (like vitamins and minerals) are added back into our diet as supplements, but not in as absorbable a form.

One of Meghan's tidbits of advice concerning sweets is that if you aren't willing to put the effort into making them, you shouldn't be eating them. Ouch.

So the other night as I went to prepare my evening hot chocolate (my replacement for the evening wine that I used to drink), I paused as I reached for the "club-sized" container of instant chocolate powder. I didn't need to look at the label to know that there would be all sorts of chemicals in that container.

I remembered that the very first recipe I ever learned was for hot chocolate. Why not take the extra couple of minutes to make it from scratch, I thought. So I did.

And here's the step-by-step recipe. It's a great beginner recipe for those of you with junior chefs at home.

Quantities are all for one mug. Just multiply by the number of cups you're making.
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons sugar (or less if you don't like it too sweet, but you will need at least 1 teaspoon to emulsify the mixture)
1 mug of milk
Optional: cinnamon stick or pinch of cinnamon

Start with one spoonful of cocoa powder.

Add two teaspoons of sugar.

Stir the two together. Keep stirring.

(If you have a preschooler helping you, expect this step to be messy! Consider using a larger bowl, or even the mug that you will be drinking out of, which is what I usually do. I used a bowl this time because it is easier to photograph.)

It was really hard to take this picture.
Meanwhile, you (the adult) can start heating the milk.* Measure the milk using the actual mugs you will drink from. Put your pot over medium-low heat and stay right by the stove and stir frequently. This is important because you want the milk to get hot but not boiling. And milk scalds really easily (the protein sticks to the bottom of the pot and turns yucky).

Back to our cocoa-sugar mixture.

Add milk, two teaspoons at a time, to the cocoa-sugar mix. When you start stirring it, it will not blend very well. The cocoa will sort of cling to the outside of the milk.

Don't give up! Keep stirring.

Note: you cannot simply add the powder mixture to the pot. It won't work. And it especially will not work with cold milk -- even if you shake it to death. I've tried.

We're getting there, don't give up! Keep scraping the powder down off the side of the bowl.

There you go. It's now ready to add to the pan of milk on the stove.

Chocolatey, milky goodness!

Watch carefully that it doesn't boil. You will see steam rising from the pot. Confession: I use my finger to test the temperature - it should be hot enough to touch, but not so hot that you'd want to leave your finger in it. You may want to use a teaspoon.

When it's hot enough, or when in doubt, take the pot off the heat immediately.

Now, pour it into the mugs using a soup ladle, unless you have a pouring spout on the pot and a very, very steady hand, which I do not. In my pre-non-alcohol days, I would often add a little dash of Grand Marnier or Irish Cream at this point. Garnish with a cinnamon stick or a candy-cane, and drink up!

Warm milk is said to help you fall asleep. Cinnamon helps with metabolism of sugars, so this is a relatively healthy bedtime snack and is very welcome at this time of year.

* These instructions are for stove-top cooking. If you use a microwave, cook the milk on high for one minute, then add the chocolate mixture and stir. Continue heating in 30-second increments.


  1. I just bought some cocoa powder the other day so I could try this! Isn't how funny how accustomed we've become to just eating packaged/processed foods that we often don't even think about the fact that we could make them ourselves? Silly as it sounds, I never would have thought about making hot chocolate myself (and I've been moving more and more towards unprocessed and whole foods in our house so I'm not unfamiliar with the concept :P). This is so much healthier! I won't feel so bad about Drew having it. And I think he'll have fun helping me make it! :)

    1. Exactly! I don't know why I ever stopped doing it this way. The "instant" way isn't really that much faster when you consider having to wait for the kettle to boil. Glad you tried it!


What did you think? Any comments?

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...