How do I Make Hot Cocoa?

Question. How do I Make Hot Cocoa?

Answer: Ah, hot cocoa! If you were as fortunate as we were during our childhoods, you had a parent or loved one who could make what you knew was the best hot cocoa in the whole world. Each and every time you cuddled up to that mug, that hot cocoa was perfectly and endlessly comforting. Then we grew up and struck out on our own, left with the burning question of how to make hot cocoa (what we really wanted to know, of course, was how to make hot cocoa the way it was made for us).

Well, there are as many ways to make hot cocoa as there are cooks who make it. A standard recipe for making hot cocoa involves unsweetened cocoa powder, granulated sugar, milk, and just a few grains of salt. To make one serving of hot cocoa, combine 1 Tablespoon (use a measuring tablespoon) of good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar to taste (start with 1 teaspoon; you can always add more), and a few grains of salt (which makes the cocoa taste more chocolatey) in a small bowl. Mix well. Heat 6 to 8 ounces of milk until very hot, but not boiling. Gradually add the hot milk to the cocoa mixture, a little at a time (if you have a small whisk, it’s ideal for this). When you’ve added all the milk, if the cocoa is no longer hot, reheat it carefully until it is.

Once the hot cocoa is well and truly hot, you can add flavorings if you wish. Try a little vanilla extract or a bit of instant coffee or cinnamon; some people like to spice things up by adding black pepper or other hot herbs or spices. You can add a touch of a liqueur if you like, as long as the liqueur’s flavor is compatible with chocolate. If kids are in the picture, make sure you have marshmallows on hand!

When you make hot cocoa, a little experimentation will establish what you like best, and that’s what it should be about. Feel free to play with flavor combinations in this comforting treat!