Homemade Hot Cocoa or Oh, St. Cecile, How Sorely They Have Used You.

how to make your own hot cocoa

Poor, poor Cecile. She never saw it coming. Literally.

Dear Miss Swiss Miss,
I wonder what your real name is? I took the liberty of doing some research, and I've decided that your given name, heretofore lost in the sands of time, is probably Cecile. You must be Cecile, the blind patron saint of music. First, the ConAgra people told you that they were naming a Wonderful New Chocolate Beverage in your honor, and then they made you sing their Inane Advertising Jingle. You see, they knew they had to choose a blind spokesperson. Otherwise, you would have looked at the ingredients listed on the box of "your" eponymous hot cocoa and refused to be a part of such a Travesty.  There is precedent for this.  I give you:

Unfortunately for the Farmers' Pride folks, Leopold had a sense of taste. Hard to tell just by auditioning. But you, oh Unfortunate Cecile, with your red-tipped cane, dark glasses and harnessed German Shepherd--it was glaringly obvious that you were blind. Alas for you; they pounced.  You were duped into shilling for ConAgra. And now, I'm here to read to you the ingredient list from that box of Evil Brown Powder that you are selling.

  • Sugar--check
  • Nonfat Dry Milk--okay
  • Modified Whey--because the milk powder isn't milky enough
  • Cocoa (Processed with Alkali)--Dutched cocoa is pH balanced; okay
  • Corn Syrup--because I guess the sugar isn't sugary enough
  • Hydrogenated Coconut Oil--because you can never have too many trans fats

Less than 2% of:

  • Salt--Nice
  • Dipotassium Phosphate--another salt that is Extremely water soluble.  Because apparently salt isn't salty enough
  • Carrageenan--seaweed!
  • Sodium Caseinate--more milky-type stuff
  • Disodium Phosphate--to keep the powder nice and powdery
  • Artificial Flavor--because cocoa and sugar and milk aren't tasty enough on their own
  • Mono- and Diglycerides--emulsifiers, to keep the transfatty goodness nicely mixed with the seaweed, et al

Oh, Cecile.  I'm sure you a damp towel for your forehead and a cold beverage to refresh you.  I hate to be the bearer of Ill News, but you needed to know.  After all, your integrity is At Stake.


Hot Cocoa

The following is for Cecile and for anyone who wants a nice cup of hot cocoa without worrying about, you know, dying from Phosphate poisoning.

St. Cecile's Most Excellent Hot Cocoa

  • cocoa powder--Dutched is preferable
  • sugar--I use demerara.  You could also use agave nectar or Your Preferred Sweetener
  • pinch of salt
  • wee splash of vanilla
  • milk--whatever kind you like.  Except buttermilk (But I shouldn't even have to say that.  You're just being difficult).
  • Optional--a sprinkle of cinnamon or cayenne.  Maybe some orange zest or extract.  Or mint extract.

There are no measurements, because I don't know how you like your hot cocoa.  Do it to your taste, and taste it frequently.  Write down what you did, and then you'll have the formula for Your Perfect Cup.  Here's how to put it together.

  1. Put all the ingredients in a large-ish saucepan.
  2. Whisk and heat over medium heat until all the cocoa has dissolved into the milk.  Don't let it come to a boil.
  3. Put in mug.
  4. Drink.

Cocoa really doesn't like to mix with milk, especially cold milk.  If you want, you can make life a bit easier by whisking the cocoa with a little bit of milk to get a thickish paste.  Then, you can whisk that into the rest of the milk, sugar, etc.

Rich Caramel Cocoa for the Daring

If you're feeling spunky, you can caramelize some sugar--take it to medium to medium dark--and stop the caramelization with some half and half.  Off the heat, stir until smooth.  Add milk, cocoa, salt and vanilla or other flavoring of your choice, and whisk over medium heat until hot.  You won't be sorry.

What's that you say? You want some of those marshmallows? Here you go.

Marshmallows along with a video Hangout on Air.






  1. says

    Yikes, poor Leopold. Somebody give that man a cup of rich caramel cocoa – maybe with a splash of something stronger like, say, Baileys. Sounds like he’ll need it to take away the taste of that Farmer’s Pride…

  2. says

    Even though I now know her name, Miss Swiss Miss and I will never again be BFFs. Still, there are many sweet memories of packeted powder. Thank you for introducing us to a more sincere and real cocoa friend! 😎

  3. says

    I do my own quick method with 10X sugar. Mix cocoa and sugar into a cup, add just a little warm water. Mix into a sludge to dissolve the cocoa. Add milk and into the microwave. Works for me. You need the warm water to get it started, not cold. With cold you will have lumpies 😉

    The packaged chocolate powders and packaged microwaved popcorn are two things on my list of “Things To Never Ever Buy Again”.

  4. says

    Ironically, the girlies and I had cups of Swiss Miss right after lunch today. I’ve tried many versions of homemade cocoa on them, but the weirdos (hubby included) prefer seaweed in theirs.

    What am I gonna do with them!?!

  5. says

    Ah, Swiss Piss. Why anyone would use it is beyond my limited understanding. OTOH, my go-to cocoa recipe uses the microwave – I mix the cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla in the mug, add a tiny bit of milk and mix until smooth, then add the rest of the milk and nuke until hot.

    • says

      Ha, @twitter-23538653:disqus ! Never heard it called that before, but it works! 😉 lol Mine is similar, but I just do it on the stove. It’s an Occasional Treat. Unless it’s cold out. Then it’s a frequent treat!

  6. says

    Cecile doesn’t live downunder so we’re safe. I suspect if I looked at the Cadbury hot cocoa mix it would look pretty similar. I make my own too but not that often or I’d be the size of a ship. 🙂 It’s time we went back to eating real food from good soil.


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