Homemade Hot Cocoa
Boiling the dry components with a small amount of water before adding the milk is the key to fully incorporating the ingredients--no clumps of cocoa powder that don't dissolve and no scorched milk. The recipe may easily be doubled or tripled, and any leftover can be stored in the refrigerator and gently rewarmed. For a speedy homemade cafe mocha, I like to combine equal parts coffee and cocoa.  Feel free to adjust the proportions to your liking.

Yields 2-1/2 cups or about 2 servings.


  • 2 to 2-1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (see notes)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/16 teaspoon (a pinch) kosher salt
  • 2 cups milk (any fat content will produce good results; a non-dairy milk of choice may be substituted, as needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional for serving: mini marshmallows or whipped cream


  1. Combine the cocoa powder, sugar, water, and salt in a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat.
  2. Stir constantly until the mixture boils. Allow the mixture to boil, still stirring, for about 45 seconds.
  3. Add the milk, stirring as you pour, and then add the vanilla. Heat, stirring occasionally, but do not boil once the milk has been added.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and serve with the optional mini marshmallows or whipped cream.


  • In a variety of taste tests, adults tended to prefer the higher amount of cocoa powder (resulting in a slightly more “dark-chocolatey” taste) while kids preferred the lesser amount.
  • Although the mixture takes just a minute to whip up, you can mix the dry ingredients and store in a small jar to have on hand whenever the mood strikes.
  • In addition to the mocha option mentioned above, other adult variations include adding a shot of Kahlua or Bailey’s Irish Cream to each mug. A dash of chili powder and a quarter teaspoon or so of cinnamon will turn the basic recipe into a Mexican hot chocolate. For a minty spin, add a drop or two of peppermint extract and a peppermint stick (or candy cane) stirrer.

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