If you’re anything like my family, once the weather turns to brisk, you want to have some hot cocoa mix on hand for whenever the urge strikes.
We bring hot cocoa with us on lingering autumn leaf walks, to play in the snow, to sip by the fire pit out in the backyard, when we ride bikes or drive around looking at holiday lights in our neighborhood, for dog romps at the park, and for wintry movie nights next to our flickering fireplace.
Even though I’m obviously all about tea, I love me some hot cocoa! I’ve even been known to infuse my cocoa with my Magareeshi Cha Cha Chai Tea. Chocolate Chai?! Yes, please!
So. You know. Running out of dry cocoa mix isn’t really an option around these parts.
The problem is, so often the store bought versions have ingredients I’d rather not ingest, are rarely 100% organic, and if they’re a higher quality, they tend to have a higher price tag.
Having a healthier, natural version of hot cocoa is like having your cake (or cocoa!) and eating (or drinking!) it, too.
Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.
Why not make some yourself?
It’s easy. It costs less than store-bought. You know exactly what’s in it. It’s vegan and allergen-free so pretty much anyone can enjoy this. And, it’s super yummy!
The most labor intensive part of this recipe is making powdered coconut palm sugar. Powdered coconut sugar is not something that’s easy to find in most grocers, natural or otherwise, so I make a bunch at once and store it away in a mason jar. Sealed well and kept dry, it stores indefinitely. That way, whenever I want to whip up a batch of this delicious cocoa mix (or make a different kind, because it’s pretty versatile), it takes less than 5 minutes!
It’s worth making powdered coconut sugar because you’ll find other uses for it just by having it handy. I’ve tried all sorts of sugars and sugar substitutes for use in a natural hot cocoa mix over many years and, in my experience, coconut sugar makes the best cup of hot cocoa. I love using date sugar or beet sugar but they perform terribly for a dry mix that you want to turn into a drink. Use those as much as you can to substitute cane sugar in baking, but for a drink, you’ll find coconut palm sugar is ideal.
It tends to be a bit fibrous, though, so blending it to a fine powder is recommended for this recipe. This will lend to a thicker, richer, creamier cup of hot cocoa — even when made with water or nondairy milks.
So, start by simply putting any amount of coconut palm sugar (I recommend doing no less than 1 cup) into your blender or food processor and pulse until powdery. It’s really not a big deal to do. Store in a mason jar, or other well sealing container until ready to make your cocoa mix.
While this is a healthier alternative to typical hot cocoa mix, it should still be considered a sweet occasional treat. Coconut palm sugar has about the same amount of calories and carbohydrates as cane sugar, but way less fructose. In fact it only has about 3-9% fructose/glucose so it can be processed by the body as useful energy more so than cane sugar.
Be sure to use “coconut palm sugar” and not “palm sugar.” They are different ingredients and coconut palm sugar is healthier. Palm sugar is made from sap from various palm trees while coconut palm sugar (aka, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, coconut crystals) is made from the nectar of a coconut palm tree.
Without further ado… here’s the recipe. I shared this at last year’s Winter Yoga Retreat Day and it was really well received. I hope you enjoy this as much as me and mine:
Soul Nourishing Hot Cocoa Mix
by Maggie Verderame
Yields 4oz of dry mix / 8 cups of light hot cocoa / 4 cups of rich hot cocoa
4 Tbs + 4 tsp Powdered* Coconut Palm Sugar
2 Tbs + 2 tsp Cacao Powder
¼ tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbs Mini Chocolate Chips (I recommend Enjoy Life brand, allergen free)
1 tsp Sweet Cinnamon
¼-½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
Whisk together the coconut palm sugar, cacao powder and sea salt in a mixing bowl. If the cacao has any clumps, break them up by pressing them against the side of the bowl under fork or whisk tines.
If adding any of the mix-ins, gently fold them in, being sure to fully combine all the spices.
Store in a sealable glass jar/container.
♥ To make a lighter cup of soul nourishing hot cocoa, use 1 tablespoon cocoa mix to 1 cup of hot water, nut milk, or animal milk. Whisk briskly until fully blended.
♥ To make a richer cup (the kind my daughter likes), use 2 tablespoons cocoa mix to 1 cup of hot water, nut milk, or animal milk. Whisk briskly until fully blended.
If you decide you want a sweeter libation, I recommend adding cane sugar, honey or maple syrup to the liquid mixture. Adding more coconut palm sugar can cause your cocoa to be a little too gritty.
My family and I don’t mind the thicker, slightly grittier texture of this mix, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. For an extra smooth cup of hot cocoa, strain the liquid mixture through ultra fine mesh before drinking.
In my home, we make 2 varieties of this mixture:
Double Chocolate Cinnamon Hot Cocoa and Mexican Hot Cocoa.
Double Chocolate Cinnamon Hot Cocoa is the base mixture with the addition of the mini chocolate chips and cinnamon powder.
Mexican Hot Cocoa is the base mixture with the addition of cinnamon powder and cayenne.
Happy chilly day sipping!
Let me know if you come up with any other varieties! We’d love to try!