How to Make Your Own Hot Chocolate Mix

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The Hungry Mouse's Homemade Hot Chocolate

Did you know you can make your own hot chocolate mix?

As in, grind cacao nibs to a fine powder, then mix them with milk and sugar for an out-of-this-world hot chocolate-y experience?

You can. And surprisingly, it’s not that hard. I’m going to show you how. All you need is a bag of cacao nibs, a food processor, and coffee grinder.

This article has 3 parts

Part 1: Explains a little about cacao beans and how chocolate is made
Part 2: Shows you how to grind your own hot chocolate powder from cacao nibs
Part 3: Gives you a recipe for turning that hot chocolate powder into a luxurious hot drink

Homemade hot chocolate mix makes a fabulously thoughtful and unique holiday gift for folks you really, really like. Pack some up with a bag of gourmet marshmallows and a pair of nice mugs for a tidy little gift basket.

The final hot chocolate is fragrant with fresh, rich chocolate and flecked with small specks of ground cacao nib.

Here’s my homemade cocoa powder:

The Hungry Mouse's Homemade Hot Chocolate Powder

How to Make Your Own Hot Chocolate Mix, Part 1: All about the cacao nib

Alright, back up, Mouse. Just what is a cacao nib, anyway?

Cacao nibs are what chocolate is made of. They’re literally little pieces of cacao bean.

Cacao nibs

For scale, here’s a cacao nib on my fingertip:

Cacao nib on my fingertip

Whole cacao beans grow inside cacao pods, like these:

Cacao Pods

Here’s the inside of the cacao pod. The cacao seeds are encased in white. (Kind of gross looking, I know.)

Inside a cacao pod

This video gives a good, if very basic overview, of the whole chocolate-making process, from tree to market.

In recent years, cacao nibs are easier to find in stores, as foodie folks seek them out for cooking and snacking. They’re rich in antioxidents and are a really good dietary source of magnesium.

Hey word nerd, what’s the difference between “cacao” and “cocoa”?

According to Allchocolate.com, the words are kind of used interchangeably at this point.

However, “cacao” generally refers to the bean and plant, while “cocoa” refers to the powder processed from the beans. A quick check on Merriam-Webster seems to bear that out.

OK, moving on.

Part 2: How to grind your own hot cocoa

Get to the hot chocolate already

Yep, yep. Here you go. You’ll need to start with a bag of cacao nibs.

I found my 4 oz. bag of Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Nibs at Whole Foods for $5.45. You can also order them here on Amazon.

Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs

The basic ratio for my hot chocolate mix

My 4 oz. bag of cacao nibs yielded 1 cup of ground cocoa powder.

I use a ratio of 1 part cocoa powder to 2 parts sugar to make my hot chocolate mix. That means that this bag will give me 3 cups of hot chocolate mix.

Important tips for grinding

  1. In order to reduce the cacao nibs to a powder, you have to grind them a few times�first in a food processor, then in a coffee grinder.
  2. Don’t try to grind them to a powder using only a food processor. Trust me. I learned from experience that that’s a great way to burn out the motor in your Cuisinart.
  3. When you’re grinding cacao nibs, heat is your enemy. That means that you need to process them fast, before the heat from the motor of your food processor liquifies the fat in the nibs and gums up your blade. If you see this start to happen, stop and wait til your machine cools.

Grind your cacao nibs in a food processor

Grab your cacao nibs and put them in the bowl of your food processor.

Put the cacao nibs in a food processor

Cacao nibs in the food processor

Pulse the blade for a minute or two to break them up. Your goal is to cut them into much smaller pieces.

Stop when they look about like this:

Chopped cacao nibs

Cacao nibs after the first grinding

Next, grind your cacao nibs in a coffee grinder

Transfer a few spoons of these smaller cacao nibs to your coffee grinder.

Next, grind the nibs in a coffee grinder

Next, grind them in a coffee grinder

Grind them in the coffee grinder for maybe 15-20 seconds, then take a peek. Keep grinding them in small bursts until they’ve broken down into a powder, like this:

After the first coffee grinder grinding

You’ll notice that, while it’s a powder, the pieces are still kind of coarse. That’s just fine. That’s why you’re going to grind them again (and even a third time, if you like) in a few minutes.

After the first grinding

Transfer the powder to a bowl.

Transfer the coarse powder to a bowl

If there’s any powder stuck in the bottom of your grinder, just knock it loose with a spoon. Repeat this process until you’ve ground all the nibs to a powder.

Grind the coarse powder again

When you’re done with this first batch, grind the coarse powder again in the coffee grinder.

You need to do this in stages like this, to keep the cocoa powder from getting too hot, liquifying, then solidifying.

As it is, you should notice that there’s a little bit of solid cocoa powder inside your grinder. Just knock it off with a spoon and grind it back to a powder.

Solid cocoa powder

Keep grinding the powder like this until it’s very fine.

Coarse cocoa powder

When you’re done, you should have about a cup of cocoa powder.

4 oz. of nibs yields about 1 cup of cocoa powder

Keep the cocoa powder in an airtight container.

How to Make Your Own Hot Chocolate Mix, Part 3: Homemade hot chocolate recipe

This is my basic hot chocolate recipe. Here are some ideas for embellishing it:

+Add a pinch of ground cinnamon
+Garnish with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream and top with chocolate shavings
+Add a shot or two of bourbon, Kahlua, or chocolate liquor


Rich and Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate

3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbls. homemade cocoa powder
2 Tbls. sugar
whipped cream or homemade creme chantilly

Set a medium sized saucepot on the stove over medium heat. Add the milk, cream, and vanilla extract to the pot.

Add the milk and cream to the pot

Toss in the cocoa powder and whisk to combine.

Add the cocoa powder

Whisk to combine

Add the sugar.

Add the sugar

Whisk to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high to bring to mixture up to a simmer.

Hot chocolate, coming up to a simmer

Whisk constantly as it cooks. This will keep your milk from scorching and will also incorporate lots of air into your hot chocolate.

Whisk constantly as it cooks

Hot chocolate, coming up to a simmer

Once it starts to bubble, simmer it for a minute or two, whisking all the time. Your finished hot chocolate will most likely have little flecks of cocoa powder floating in it, like this:

Flecked with cocoa-y goodness

These little bits of cocoa powder aren’t hard at all and actually add an extra nice chocolate-y flavor and texture to the hot chocolate. That said, if you aren’t keen on drinking them, you can certainly pour your hot chocolate through a strainer into a mug.

Don’t be fooled by the lighter brown color. This hot chocolate is packed with insanely intense chocolate flavor.

After a minute or two, turn the heat off and take your pot off the burner. You’re ready to serve!

Pour your hot chocolate into a mug.

Pour the hot chocolate into a mug

Hot chocolate

Top with whipped cream. Serve and enjoy!

The Hungry Mouse's Homemade Hot Chocolate

The Hungry Mouse's Homemade Hot Chocolate

How to Make Your Own Hot Chocolate Mix

Grind cacao nibs to a fine powder, then mix them with milk and sugar for an out-of-this-world hot chocolate-y experience. Here's my recipe for rich and creamy hot chocolate.

Save Recipe

Ingredients

3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbls. homemade cocoa powder
2 Tbls. sugar
whipped cream or homemade creme chantilly

Instructions

  1. Set a medium sized saucepot on the stove over medium heat. Add the milk, cream, and vanilla extract to the pot.
  2. Add the milk and cream to the pot.
  3. Toss in the cocoa powder and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the cocoa powder and whisk to combine
  5. Add the sugar. Whisk to combine.
  6. Raise the heat to medium-high to bring to mixture up to a simmer.
  7. Whisk constantly as it cooks. This will keep your milk from scorching and will also incorporate lots of air into your hot chocolate.
  8. Once it starts to bubble, simmer it for a minute or two, whisking all the time.
  9. After a minute or two, turn the heat off and take your pot off the burner.
  10. Top with whipped cream. Serve and enjoy!
http://www.thehungrymouse.com/2008/12/14/how-to-make-your-own-hot-chocolate-mix/


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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

32 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Jessie!

    OMG, this is the sweet post that makes me craving all the pictures at the screen..very delicious and informative post!!

    Dear Jessie I’ve an award waiting for you at my blog…please stop by when you get a chance 🙂

    Gera .:. sweetsfoods

  2. This was a great post! I learned a lot. I can only imagine how amazing that cup of hot chocolate was! I also like your site’s new format, especially the visual archive. Very cool:)

  3. I think you have just convinced me to go get a food processor AND a coffee grinder (we are all non-coffee drinkers at home so naturally no coffee grinder) just to make my own cocoa powder.
    Great post!

  4. The cocolate nibs I ground in my coffee grinder came out more like a coarse chocolate paste with some natural oils in it than a powder. Am I using different nibs?

  5. Thanks, all!

    Kerry–Hmm, did you use the same brand that I did? (If not, which ones did you get?)

    From the sounds of it, I’m guessing that your nibs got too hot from the heat of the coffee grinder motor. That’s why I grind them in small batches. (Heat will draw out and liquify the cocoa butter from the nibs, and make the chocolate-y paste that it sounds like you got.)

    You should be able to scrape that paste out, though, let it cool, then grind it up. If it’s cool enough and you do it bit by bit, it should work. Give a shout and let me know how it turns out.

    +Jessie

  6. Thank You for writing back Jesse.

    The brand was Mountain Rose Herbs. The nibs were organic Cacao Nibs (Theobroma cacao). I originally saw a video of a chocolatier making a basic chocolate with his coffee grinder. He ground it until it was a paste. He added flavorings and sweeteners to it then ate it. That must be what you are talking about when it gets heated from the grinding.

    Maybe I need a different grinder. I never get powder before I get paste. I’d like to grind the nibs and store the powder in the frig for a couple more cups. Are there any grinders that do more at a time without heating up things?

    I bought a twin gear Green Star juicer which is known to not generate heat in order to preserve the nutrients in the juice. It grinds nuts into nut butters. I’m wondering if it would make a powder from the cacao nibs or a paste.

    Since I didn’t get powder, I mixed the chocolate paste with some organic cocoa butter and a smidge of coconut oil. I add powdered sugar to taste and added walnuts and raisins. I didn’t get cocoa powder but boy what a great chocolate treat in the end! No risk of Chinese melamine either. Hard to clean the coffee grinder though.

    Maybe I should put the paste into the cocoa. It’s going to get heated anyway. I use raw milk with it’s cream so the oils in the chocolate would probably combine with the fats in the milk.

    Sincerely,

    Kerry

  7. Pettez–I’ve never used a vitamix, but you could certainly try it! I’d start with a really small batch and see what happens. The first time I did this, I used my Cuisinart food processor for the whole thing, and it literally overheated on me. So definitely be careful. You don’t want to break your equipment. But let me know how it goes!!

    +Jessie

  8. The information about grinding the cacao nibs is really informative. I now need to buy a coffee grinder! Tried using just the food processor before reading this and realised that it wasn’t going to work on its own.

    I’m going to use the nibs, once powdered to make some tasty snacks for my clients to try as I’m a Nutritional Therapist.

  9. I used a vitamix to do this and it worked just fine. I actually just put a cup or so of nibs in and ground a bit, unstuck the bits, ground a bit, unstuck the bits….etc a few times and then made it into hot chocolate. Add a bit of cold brewed coffee concentrate and you’ve got a lovely mocha. My husband is drinking it right now and is very satisfied.

  10. This was really, really helpful information that I’m going to bookmark. Some friends just gave me two cacao fruit. Not just nibs. The whole fruit. So I’m trying to understand what to do with them. Once I’ve dried and roasted the beans, I’ll be using your information to make the hot chocolate. Thanks for posting.

  11. Thanks Jessie! I bought some nibs to snack on yesterday and didn’t like them. Today is a miserable rainy day in London and I fancied some hot chocolate and I thought about the nibs… From google to mug in 15 minutes flat!!!

    I’d kept the nibs in the fridge (Booja-Booja’s in case any one is interested) so they were cold anyway, and after pulsing them in short sharp bursts for about 5 minutes in my coffee grinder, I added the sugar and also some cinnamon, nutmeg and chili, before grinding them again. By the time it was beginning to clump in the middle, it had ground down to a powder, and no problem with either the motor, or cleaning the grinder.

    I literally found your blog a quarter of an hour ago and I’m already one mug down of the most delicious hot chocolate ever. YUM!

  12. Hi, what a wondeful article! Thank you so much for that delicious recipe. I am a distributor for Choffy and this is a wonderful addition in making a good cup of chocolate. For all your cacao nibs visit my site. CHOFFY has been featured on Dr. Oz, Oprah Magazine and Food Network. To order yours visit: http://www.drinkchoffy.com/tsokolate

  13. So i had about a cup of cacao nibs and like lots of people, didn’t really know what to do with them. Read your excellent descriptions and looked at those wonderful pix.

    Threw the nibs and a cinnamon stick in the vitamix and voila!! Powder in seconds… long before any heat. No stickiness!

    Dumped powder in a jar with twice as much sugar and mixed using trusty chopstick.

    Heated tiny amt of water to clean Vitamix… added 2 T of mix… then added some soy milk and almond milk… little slug of vanilla extract… gave it good long whirl… and out came creamy, frothy, rich and absolutely spectacular vegan hot chocolate!! And no milky pan to wash.

    (Also keep a bottle of peppermint extract in cupboard… with medicine dropper as a few drops can go a l-o-n-g way. Didn’t add any tonight… but will next time.)

    Thanks so much!! Got a nice supply of fabulous cocoa mix now… even better than with commercial cocoa powder. And yes, the Kahlua-type enhanced versions may show up in my cup this winter, too.

    • Thank you for this post, I have a vitamix and some nibs just sitting around needing a use, a great after Christmas treat is in the works for my family today!

  14. I am milk allergic, so I used 1 1/2C almond milk, 1/2C coconut milk
    2T ground cacao nibs,
    1 small pinch salt
    1/4t vanilla
    1 packet Pyure stevia extract

    It came out really good, but I’m not sure the PYURE is a good product. It is organic, but also has a “natural flavor” that you never know what it is. I will investigate that. I have been looking for a good stevia product. Thanks for posting your recipe. It made me try this one.

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