10 December 2014

Blogmas Day 10: Cocoa for One

I've always enjoyed the occasional mug of hot cocoa, but in the fall of 2011 a warm cup of cocoa became a nightly ritual for me during cold weather. I was in my first semester at the Harvard University Extension School, and a warm drink was just the thing to get me through a night of studying or help me to relax before bed. Since then I've had hot cocoa more regularly during the fall and winter during school and break times, and I've experimented quite a bit to find just the right blend. I find that instant cocoa mixes tend to be too heavy on the sugar and cocoa for my liking, and too watery if a lesser amount of the mix is used since they tend not to include a full proportion of milk powder. So, I've devised my own recipe for a single cup of hot cocoa, which is as follows:


- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 heaping teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Heat the milk to desired temperature in the microwave or on the stovetop and transfer to a drinking mug if necessary. Add the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt and mix well--a few small clumps of cocoa powder may be visible, which you can break by pressing against the side of your mug with the spoon. Add the vanilla extract, stir, and enjoy!

For a special treat, add 1/8 - 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract, or stir in a few mini marshmallows (I like the vegetarian kind from Dandies), or top with a dollop of whipped cream.

I'd like to figure out the correct proportions for a larger batch of the dry mix as well, to have ready-made on hand. My calculations suggest that 8 tablespoons of sugar, 6 tablespoons of cocoa, and 3/4 teaspoon salt should provide enough for 12 lightly-heaped tablespoon servings, and ought to be similar to the above single-serve proportions.


  1. Your alphabet mug looks so festive with the holly-embroidered napkin!

  2. Special behind-the-scenes tidbit exclusive to commenters: I actually photographed the mug empty and in my bedroom, to get the best lighting. Arranging an empty mug and a napkin on a nightstand to be photographed is one of those moments when you realize how strange blogging is.


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