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:
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.
For scale, here’s a cacao nib on my fingertip:
Whole cacao beans grow inside cacao pods, like these:
Here’s the inside of the cacao pod. The cacao seeds are encased in white. (Kind of gross looking, I know.)
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.
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
- In order to reduce the cacao nibs to a powder, you have to grind them a few timesï¿½first in a food processor, then in a coffee grinder.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
Next, grind your cacao nibs in a coffee grinder
Transfer a few spoons of these smaller cacao nibs to your 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:
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.
Transfer the 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.
Keep grinding the powder like this until it’s very fine.
When you’re done, you should have about a 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.
Toss in the cocoa powder and whisk to combine.
Add the sugar.
Whisk to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high to bring to mixture 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.
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:
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.
Top with whipped cream. Serve and enjoy!