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

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