Quarantine Life recipe of the day: hot chocolate

This is a lovely “starting place” hot chocolate recipe, inspired by a recipe from Cooks Illustrated. It’s perfectly tasty if you make it the way it is, but that is no fun at all. This recipe demands to be customized. Make it YOUR hot chocolate — that’s the entire reason to do this instead of just buying it at the store.


  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or large blender and grind until it’s a consistent powder. Store in an airtight container.

To make hot chocolate: heat 1 cup of milk to nearly boiling (about 165-185 degrees); add 1/4 cup hot chocolate mix and stir until just barely combined. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir vigorously until well mixed. Drink, once it cools enough not to be scalding.

There are so many different directions you can go with this recipe to make it your own:

  • Mint: use mint extract instead of vanilla extract, or break up a piece of a candy cane and throw it into the food processor with the other ingredients to grind it into powder. Or add some dried mint leaves into the mix before grinding.
  • Substitute malted milk powder for some or all of the dry milk powder. You might need to adjust the sugar.
  • Mexican hot chocolate: add 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper in with the other ingredients and grind together. Adjust the proportions to your taste.
  • Mocha: add 1/8 to 1/4 cup instant coffee or instant espresso powder (think about whether you would like it to be caffeinated or decaf).
  • Add some dried orange zest before grinding. Not a lot; just enough to give a hint of orange.
  • Add 1 teaspoon culinary lavender (or more if you really like lavender)

Other notes:

  • Letting it sit for a minute before stirring allows the chocolate in the mix to melt first. It combines much easier after it’s melted.
  • Theoretically you can use this mix with hot water instead of milk, but it comes out very thin. I don’t recommend it.