Have you ever met a kid who didn’t welcome a hefty mug of rich hot cocoa on a chilly morning or after a day in the snow? For those of you that wonder what “real” difference it makes to use a homemade mix instead of a store-bought one, I urge you to try this recipe.
When you choose to use a bit of down time to make this dry concoction, in bulk, the benefits are not just limited to enhanced taste. For me, the biggest benefit has always been the nurturing “take away” as a parent, which is far greater than when tearing open a packet of those commercially prepared mixes (complete with dehydrated marshmallows, resembling space-rocks). So, if you have children or neighbors who have children, now’s the time to whisk, sift and store this terrific cocoa mix and make sure to stop and take notice at how different it feels, when you hear those wonderful words “This is so delicious!” Also, if you have friends who go skiing often, this cocoa mix makes a fabulous gift.
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Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a 6-quart bowl. Sift mixture through a large triple-mesh sieve into another bowl and then sift back into the original bowl. Store in an airtight 4- to 5-quart canister.
Place 1/3 cup of the dry mix into a mug. (Use less mix for a smaller cup.) Fill the mug with boiling water, milk, half and half or cream (or use a combination). Add vanilla and stir well, with a cinnamon stick, if using.
Top with any of the suggested garnishes. If serving to young children, you might want to stir in a bit of cold milk just to take some of the heat off.
If using, run a regular vegetable peeler across a block of firm bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Depending on the width of the chocolate you’re shaving, you will either get long curls or a fine dusting. Both are delicious. Store any extras in an airtight container.