Today is a day for hot cocoa – big storm (please stop saying “snowpocalypse” people!) raging outside means it’s time for procrastination through cooking, my favorite sport. I’m out of coffee, and I’m tired of tea, but I had no hot chocolate mix left. I do have various sweeteners, cocoa powder, and some milk-type-things, though… thus begins a classic afternoon of cookery experimenting.
Like almost everything I do, this is pretty flexible. Want it sweeter? Add sugar. Want less depth of flavor? Use regular chocolate powder. Get crazy and add some cayenne pepper to it or some mint extract. However you serve it, here’s where I started:
Maple Hot Chocolate
2T unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s extra dark, since it’s what I had)
a pinch of salt
1T granulated sugar (more or less depending on how sweet you like it)
1/2C hot water (I pre-boiled it in my electric kettle, makes the whole thing go faster)
3T maple syrup (the real stuff!)
1/2t vanilla extract
3C milk or milk-equivalent (I used soymilk and it tasted great)
In a decently sized pot or saucepan with a wide bottom (easier for whisking), whisk the cocoa powder, salt, and sugar together. Add the hot water and whisk until ingredients are combined, then add the butter, vanilla and maple syrup. Whisk until smooth, with the burner on simmer, and then add 2C of your milk, whisking until combined and warm.
Now comes an important step – the pre-taste-test. Taste a bit of it to see how sweet it is. If you like your cocoa on the sweeter side, add less milk. If you like it on the less-sweet side, add more. You can always add more sugar or maple syrup if you want it sweeter, and more milk if you don’t.
This makes 2-3 awesomely big travel-mug sized servings, or four regular-sized servings, depending on how you thin it with milk. If you’re going to double the recipe, just keep tasting it as you go to make sure proportions are right. Garnish with marshmallow or whipped cream if that’s your thing, but I like it straight up, no distractions.