As the weather turns cooler, you may find yourself reaching for a warm mug of hot cocoa. While it’s convenient to grab a packet out of the box, making your own only takes three simple ingredients: sugar, cocoa powder and milk. This is a far cry from the hot cocoa mix you buy at the store, which generally has corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, natural flavor, and other preservatives added. Not to mention, most people prefer the taste of homemade.
While we use the terms interchangeably, hot cocoa and hot chocolate are technically different. Hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, while hot chocolate is made with chocolate. If using cocoa, buy unsweetened and either natural or Dutch-processed. Dutched cocoa is darker and tastes more like dark chocolate. White granulated sugar is most often used, but most any type of sugar will work. The sugar to cocoa powder ratio is often 2:1. However, that’s 25 grams of added sugar in one cup, which is the American Heart Association’s daily limit for women and children! If making hot chocolate, adding sugar may not be necessary, as sugar is already in the melted chocolate.
When adding the last ingredient, milk is favored over water, as it gives a richer flavor. Plus, it offers more nutrition, including calcium and vitamin D. Of course, whole milk will yield a richer-tasting beverage, but will be higher in unhealthy saturated fats. Heat the milk over the stovetop or in the microwave; just don’t let it come to a boil. Consider using non-fat dry milk to make hot cocoa mix, which can be stored in the pantry for when you have that hot cocoa craving!
Source: American Heart Association. How much sugar is too much?
About the Author
Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.