We are big fans of hot cocoa around here. After a lot of experimenting with different types of mixes, I finally settled on our family’s favorite, which happens to also be the simplest version we’ve tried. When the children were younger I used to make a mix that included dried milk powder that you just had to add water too. However, it was never quite as rich and yummy as I wanted it to be, and I realized that it wasn’t worth the “time” I saved by not just heating up some milk!

My basic recipe for our hot cocoa is simple but I think the key is using really good cocoa. The better the cocoa the better the drink. I use this one.

Hot Cocoa Mix

3 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/4 cups cocoa

1 tablespoon salt

Mix all together. I add about 2 tablespoons per mug but use as little or as much as you like.

I also really enjoy a yummy Lavender Hot Cocoa. When I was in Scotland, I had one that was truly delicious and I reached out to the cafe to see how they made it. They were kind enough to share their secrets but it involved making a powder out of the lavender and adding it directly to the cocoa. I’ve yet to be able to get my lavender into a fine enough powder and I don’t think most people enjoy sipping their drink and having flower buds in their mouth. So until I can master that technique I’m sticking to infusing my milk with lavender.

Lavender Infused Milk

12 ounces of milk

2 teaspoons lavender buds

In a pot, bring milk to a simmer and immediately take off of heat. Add the lavender buds, cover the pot and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain milk through a sieve and discard lavender buds.

When you are ready for your hot chocolate, simply reheat your milk, add the cocoa mix and enjoy!

This technique is very simple but it does take time. I’ve actually doubled the infused milk “recipe” ahead of time and kept the milk in the refrigerator ready to use. This way, when your ready for your hot cocoa you don’t have to wait for the infusing process!

In the winter months, I put out a hot chocolate station. At Christmas time, there are Santa mugs and candy canes for stirring, Valentines might find heart sprinkles and rose marshmallows, while Easter will be pastel sprinkles and whipped cream. I usually make homemade marshmallows once or twice a year, the rest of the time we simply have bagged marshmallows at the ready.