I love Debbie Koenig’s work! Always have. I enjoyed her first book, Parents Need to Eat Too, a lot and requested her to do a guest recipe here and she graciously agreed.

Spiced (But Not Spicy) Hot Cocoa Mix By Debbie Koenig

In my son’s world, every spice is Scary Spice. Harry eats his pasta unsauced, his hot dogs nude, and his chicken only from the interior, unseasoned part—ask him to name his favorite flavor, and he’ll tell you: “Salty.” That’s right, his favorite spice is salt. At six years old, he’s been narrowing his will-eat list for so long, I can practically make a living writing about the foodie mom/picky kid paradox.

So the success of this hot cocoa recipe took me by surprise. I created it to use as last year’s holiday gift, figuring it would also make a sweet little treat for my husband and me. But the allure of chocolate is more powerful than I expected; Harry wandered into the kitchen while I was testing, and didn’t leave until we’d figured out the ideal mix of spices.

Thanks to a generous helping of cinnamon, a less generous amount of ancho chile powder (which is made from dried, mildly hot poblano peppers), and a hint of nutmeg, this cocoa tastes sophisticated enough for the grownups, but still chocolaty enough for the kids—Harry downed about a bathtub’s worth of the stuff last winter, and during that snowy Nor’Easter after Election Day, he suggested we make our first batch for this one.

The recipe yields enough that you’ll have plenty to share. Packaged in sweet little Weck jars, topped with a baggie of Cinnamon Mini-Marshmallows, and paired with a cocoa-themed holiday card (Etsy usually has plenty to choose from), a gift of Spiced Hot Cocoa will delight even the vanilla-est person on your list.


Spiced (But Not Spicy) Hot Cocoa Mix

Adapted from Best Ever Hot Cocoa Mix

Makes 24 servings

3 cups nonfat dry milk

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon ancho chile powder

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Working in 3 batches, pulse ingredients in a food processor until the chocolate is finely ground. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  2. To make hot cocoa, whisk 1/4 cup of the mix into 1 cup of cold milk (any percentage), and heat over medium-low heat.
  3. Serve with Cinnamon Marshmallows, if you’ve got em.

Recipe, post and photo credit: Debbie Koenig

You may also like...


  1. Don’t worry, Harry – sometimes I think my favorite spice might be salt too. (Though technically it’s a mineral!) Has he tried salted caramel cocoa yet?

  2. He’s tried salted chocolate-covered caramels & told me he didn’t like salt with chocolate! FREAK.

  3. Sounds so much like me! That paradox would describe me and my little girl perfectly well. I hear you Debbie, totally.

    Loved reading and relating to her post.. Sometimes, my girl surprises me with her acceptance of food too. Just, sometimes..

  4. Sounds exactly like my six-year old who as a toddler ate everything, all different spices, etc. Sigh. Now she’s even picking off the fleck of oregano from the sauce on her pizza. Here’s to good faith that they will eventually come around. Fantastic recipe for gift giving!

  5. Hello!

    My name is Emilie and I have read your blog and I really liked your recipes! I work for a website called myTaste.in and I would love for you to join us!

    http://www.mytaste.in is a search engine that collects food blogs. We already have over 800 blogs and if you join us you will take benefit from the traffic that we are sending to your blog.

    Add our widget and hopefully with your recipes your blog will be on the top of the food blogs list!

    If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at info@mytaste.in

    To join myTaste, just go to http://www.mytaste.in/add-your-food-blog

    Best regards, Emilie

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.