It is cold outside and the snow just keeps coming. I am trying to embrace the season with the classic foods and drinks that scream winter, like soups, meals made with seasonal vegetables, and of course, hot cocoa. What would a snowy winter be without being able to come in from the cold and enjoy a mug of hot cocoa? When I was growing up, having hot cocoa meant ripping open a package, pouring in some water, and heating it up in the microwave. As a child, there was no thought that went into what I might be drinking. Now, as a mom, I have to make the decision between convenience and knowing (and feeling good about) the ingredients. A popular instant hot cocoa packet has the following ingredient list:
SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.
I have to choose between all of ^^^those^^^ ingredients and the list in a cup of homemade hot cocoa, which includes: milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, agave nectar, and peppermint oil extract. I can have the homemade version made in almost the same amount of time, so really, there’s no question which one I’m going to choose. I don’t need sugar to be the number one ingredient in my hot chocolate, and I don’t want corn solids, hydrogenated oils, and other chemicals that I don’t know enough about in there, either.
I included just a drop of peppermint oil extract in my hot cocoa because I’ve been craving the combination of mint+chocolate, but you can leave it out for a classic, no-sugar hot chocolate treat. The recipe is for one mug, but you can easily double, triple or quadruple the recipe to make enough for your family.
Peppermint Hot Cocoa
1 cup milk (I used almond milk, any kind of milk will do the job)
1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
1 drop peppermint extract
In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and agave nectar and stir until they are combined. Set aside. Put the milk in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Stir in the chocolate mixture and heat until steaming. Add the drop of peppermint extract. Makes 1 cup.