Vanilla Bean Hot Cocoa Mix
Makes four cups of mix
There's nothing like a cup of hot cocoa on a wintry day, and making your own homemade cocoa mix for a gift couldn't be easier. This recipe is for an instant cocoa -- just add hot water to the mix! You can customize it with either traditional powdered milk, or you can make it dairy-free by using powdered soy milk, and you can also change up the flavors by adding a few drops of peppermint extract or anything else that speaks to you. If you're making this with the vanilla bean, make the mix and then let it sit with the vanilla bean in it for a few days, just to infuse it; if you're in a hurry, then you can scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add that directly to the mix.
I've packaged it here in individual servings, each topped with some mini marshmallows and accompanied by a small spoon dipped in melted chocolate and crushed peppermint candy, just to give it an extra festive flair — but it's also nice to present a big batch of it in a Mason jar!
3 cups powdered milk (non-fat dairy or soy)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 piece of fresh vanilla bean, about two inches long
Serveware provided by Le Creuset
Put the first four ingredients into a food processor (or just a bowl) and mix well to combine into a powder. Put the mix into an airtight container with the piece of vanilla bean; will keep up to two months at room temperature.
If adding any other flavoring, such as the scraped vanilla bean seeds or peppermint extract, mix that ingredient in with all the others at the same time so that it is well incorporated.
To make a cup of cocoa, just add 1/4 cup of the mix to 8 ounces of boiling water and stir well.
Carla's Tip: Ever had a problem with getting those little lumps of dry mix in your cocoa? Instead of adding all the hot water right away, add a teaspoon or two of milk or cream to the mix, stir it into a paste, then add the water and mix well. If you want to make it even tastier, add a piece of chocolate to the bottom of the cup!