Winter caught up with us last week. Now, I’ll admit that I was completely happy with the fact that there was none of that white stuff on the ground yet because it ensured my commute every day was uneventful beyond the usual traffic. We did kind of miss it at Christmas, though.
There’s something about snow that we yearn for, or at least those of us who grew up in the Midwest seem to crave it. No, driving in it is not fun, and I can’t say that shoveling a lot of it is a delightful experience, either. But there’s something about watching it fall and pile up, dancing and drifting its way down. It’s kind of like watching the world get frosted. Everything gets quiet and peaceful; life slows down for a while. Suddenly, that pound of ground beef so necessary for dinner isn’t worth the trip out; big bowls of popcorn will do just fine. Pajamas, cozy blankets, movies, and a read through a good book all sound like very good ideas; laundry can wait until tomorrow. And what about the big mug of hot chocolate? It’s practically required.
When you’re younger, you can’t wait to play in snow. It doesn’t matter how cold and windy it is — top priority is jumping and sledding and snowballs and snowmen. Forts are fun, or tunnels and tracks in the snow. And once your fingers are numb and your eyelashes are frozen together, you waddle your way into the house, wiggle out of the soppy snow pants and very wet socks and wait for the big mug of hot chocolate. It’s practically required in this case, too.
I’ll be honest, for a girl who loves chocolate as much as this girl does, I don’t ever really crave hot chocolate. I loved it as a kid, or at least the idea of it. But perhaps it’s that I’ve become more accustomed to what chocolate is — I’d much rather chomp on a handful of chocolate chips than sip my way through a mug of Swiss Miss. Don’t get me wrong — if someone were to hand me a mug of the stuff, I’d drink it and probably like it. But I don’t see a box of Swiss Miss and immediately want it and need it. I’m kind of that way about pumpkin pie, too. Now, potato chips are a different story.
A few years ago as I was searching for easy, homemade gifts to give to people, I came across a “recipe” for homemade hot cocoa mix. Layered in a jar, it looked so good and was so incredibly easy and budget-friendly that I couldn’t pass it up. Paired with an inexpensive snowman or holiday mug that could be used by the recipient for a bit and packed away or tossed as they desired, it was perfect for gifts, especially when I started coloring the sugar to coordinate with the mugs (I once had all the colors of the rainbow layered in a jar).
So last week as I was thinking about how to work my way back into the blogging thing and snow was in the forecast, I thought I could share this recipe with you. The thing was, I hadn’t made it for myself in such a long time, I wasn’t sure that it even tasted good enough to be worthy to share. As the snow was falling this past Friday afternoon, I layered a batch in a container, snapped a picture, and mixed it for myself. Folks, I think I may start craving hot chocolate.
For my friends who are dairy-free, the good news for you is that over time I altered the recipe and now use non-dairy creamer, thus making it dairy-free. Paired with dairy-free chocolate chips, it’s a treat you won’t want to miss!
Hot Cocoa Mix
- 2 Tbsp. non-dairy creamer (or dry milk works, too)
- 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. chocolate chips
- marshmallows as desired
Combine contents with 8 oz. hot water. Stir and enjoy!
If making a gift, layer ingredients in container, such as a votive holder. Include directions as above (“Combine…). If you want to make more than a single serving, you can make as much as you want; just keep the proportions the same. For a pint jar full of mix, I layer the ingredients in 1/3 cup amounts (1/3 cup creamer, 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/3 cup sugar*; repeat). To get the layers more compacted to fit more in, carefully cover the top and vertically pound it on a towel. Then I add chocolate chips (1/3 cup or so) and marshmallows (whatever fits) — they help keep the layers from shifting. Cover. Add the directions “Mix contents in large bowl. Add 1/3 cup mix to 6 oz. hot water.”
*To color your own sugar, place desired amount of sugar in a resealable plastic bag or a sealable container. Add liquid food coloring (start with a few drops). Seal and shake to mix. Add more food coloring and repeat until desired color is achieved. Open bag or container and let dry (it takes a few hours). Note: this works well for sugar to decorate cookies, too. 🙂