How to Make Gourmet Hot Chocolate as Gifts

Make extra of this hot chocolate, because you’ll want to keep some luxury for yourself.

I looked a long time to find the perfect recipe. I wanted one that would be complex-tasting yet simple to make. Plus I wanted one that was deep and chocolatey, not sweet and cloying.

I’m happy to say that Alton Brown’s hot cocoa recipe is it. It’s instant: no whisking and no burning milk in a pan. It’s rich but it’s not heavy. And most importantly, it’s like drinking warm European chocolate. When are you not in the mood for that?

Gourmet Hot Chocolate Recipe

Here is Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe, without the cayenne pepper.

If you prize chocolate, you’ll want your mix to be made with the best-tasting cocoa powder. Dutch-processed cocoa is going to give you the strongest chocolate taste without acidity or bitterness. Among the dutch-processed cocoa powders, the Belgian brand Callebaut got the highest mark in a Cook’s Illustrated blind taste test, so that’s the one I have used, and it is exquisite.

However, at $30-35 per 2.2 lb. bag (or $1 per ounce), it is pricey.  Cook’s Illustrated also did a taste test of supermarket cocoa powder, and two Hershey’s varieties were in the top three.  The tasters rated Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa number one for it’s “assertive” chocolate flavor, and Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa in third.  (Droste, an imported Dutched cocoa, came in second for its “round,” “bold” flavor and “depth,” but like Callebaut, it’s more of a splurge.)

Makes 5 1/2 cups of dry mix

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered non-fat milk  (NOT whole milk, which tends to lump)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Fill mug halfway with mix. Pour in hot water. Mix well.

(It might sound like a lot of mix, but remember that the largest ingredient is powdered milk.)

How to Make a Big Batch for Giving

Use a very-clean plastic bin or trash bag to mix up a large batch

The above recipe only makes enough for about one family, so I figured out how to make a ton so that we could give it away to friends, relatives, and teachers.

Since the cocoa powder is the most expensive and perishable ingredient (it should be used within several months or it loses flavor), it makes sense to buy the other ingredients based on how much you can get out of a bag of cocoa.

There are 8 cups of cocoa powder in a 2.2 lb. (1 kilo) bag of Callebaut. To make a batch of hot chocolate using the whole bag, you’ll need 16 cups of powdered sugar, and 20 cups of powdered milk. That should make a total of 44 cups of hot chocolate mix and about 11 gift cans (if you use 10 oz. coffee cans which hold about 4 cups each). So here is my recommendation for what to buy:

Shopping List (for a Big Batch)

Ingredients for a double-double batch of gourmet hot chocolate

  • One 2.2 lb. bag of Callebaut cocoa powder (see above if you want to try a different brand)
  • Two 2 lb. bags of powdered sugar
  • One 1 lb. bag or box of powdered sugar (you’ll have some left over)
  • 4 lbs. of fresh, non-expired powdered non-fat milk (stale powdered milk tends to lump)
  • cornstarch
  • salt

As you can see from the photo, this year I doubled my big batch and bought 2 bags of cocoa powder. I’m psyched to have all the hot chocolate to give away, but it is quite a messy operation to mix it all up. This year, I scrubbed clean a plastic bin that used to house Christmas decor and used it to stir up the mix, which was better than having to do several batches in a large bowl.

Big Batch Recipe of Gourmet Hot Chocolate

Makes 44 cups of mix (about 10 cans of hot chocolate)

  • One 2.2 lb. bag of Callebaut cocoa powder
  • Two 2 lb. bags plus 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 20 cups of powdered milk
  • 8 teaspoons of salt
  • 16 teaspoons of cornstarch

Mix together in a very large container (or new trash bag), making sure that all the ingredients are incorporated by scraping the bottoms and sides. Spoon into containers and label with directions and ingredients (see below).

Packaging the Hot Chocolate Mix

I love drinking espresso at home, so I’ve been saving coffee cans since last Christmas when we first made hot chocolate gifts. (Read here about why I love Bustelo Cuban espresso.)

We covered the cans with paper bags.

Every brand has a slightly different can size, so you’ll need to measure from top to bottom and around the middle. Bustelo requires a 5 3/8″ x 13″ rectangle to cover the can, which we simply attached with school glue.

Measuring trick: if you don’t have a tape measure, wrap a ribbon or towel around the object to be measured, mark the end point, and then lay the fabric against a ruler.

We then wrote “Hot Chocolate” on a 4-inch doily and glued it on the front and top using regular school glue.

Then I noticed that I could just pull off the Bustelo label and get a plain silver can. So I saved time and effort by just attaching the labels to the aluminum can. And I think they look just about as good. Has anyone coined the term frilly-industrial?

Printable Labels for Ingredients and Directions

Here is a PDF you can download and use to print labels for the hot chocolate. I only did the ingredients and directions because I thought handwriting the “Hot Chocolate” looked more homey.

Download the ingredients and directions label for hot chocolate

These go perfectly with Avery shipping labels #18163 (available in 10-sheet packs).

And that’s about it! The hot cocoa mix is not hard to make — you can mix up a big batch and package it all simply in one afternoon. And don’t forget to save some for yourself — I’m sure you deserve it.

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  • Mary December 20, 2016, 3:16 am

    The powdered sugar can also be found in 4 pound bags.

  • Donna Hermann November 10, 2016, 1:50 pm

    I assume it’s 20 cups of whatever cocoa you are using for your big batch recipe

    • Amy November 12, 2016, 10:38 pm

      Hi Donna,

      I just did the conversion, and there are a little over 5 cups in a pound of powdered cocoa. So if I used a 2.2 lb bag of cocoa, it probably works out to be about 11 cups.

      Hope this helps,

  • Cobus August 19, 2016, 3:06 am

    Hi… Will it be possible to use this recipe to mix big batches and sell for profits? How does the costs compare to the readymixed available in stores?

  • Maggie February 29, 2016, 9:04 am

    Is it possible to make this with non diary milk eg almond milk powder?

  • Maria Marsala February 14, 2016, 6:57 am

    Thanks so much for your post and website. My mom loves hot chocolate and has been drinking Swiss Mix. According to the company that prefers to remain anonymous, it has a lot of fake stuff in it. So I don’t think it’s good for an 82 year old :) Her birthday is next month.

    That company recommends Ghirardelli Double Chocolate, then Nestles … but reminds people to watch the sugar and sodium.

    I plan to 1/2 the recipe and use some xylitol in it to cut the sugar a bit. Recently I made some jam and used 4 c sugars and 2 c xylitol and all people said was how great it was. If you use the stuff, make sure it’s the birch tree type vs. the type made from corn.

  • Gigi January 2, 2016, 3:45 pm

    Try mason jars

  • Laura January 2, 2016, 11:54 am

    Saw this too late, but I put mine in mason jars.

  • Carrie December 18, 2015, 5:28 am

    Not sure if anyone reads the thread anymore, however I would love to try this for gifts, but don’t have the cans to put it in. Anyone have ideas on what to put it in (Christmas is less than a week away). Also, I’m sorry if I missed this in the recipe, but how much did you put in the cans? Thanks

  • Angela November 27, 2015, 4:29 pm

    Not sure if you could help, but any idea how to make this mix with sweetened cocoa powder instead of unsweetened? Would I just use three cups of the sweetened cocoa powder? :)

  • Diane November 19, 2015, 12:36 pm

    I would love to try this recipe. My concern is that it seems like a lot of salt. Comment, please, and clarify use. Thanks!

    • Amy November 25, 2015, 2:28 pm

      Hi Diane,

      I think the salt balances out the sweetness, improving the taste and adding to its complexity. Also, keep in mind that each cup of hot chocolate would have relatively little salt. You could always try the recipe with and without salt.

      Good luck!

  • Njs November 11, 2015, 3:34 pm

    i would love to make this without the sugar so that I can add my own (liquid) non-calorie sweetener. How much do you estimate that I would need per 8 oz. cup? I am currently using stevia after I found out that it helps with insulin resistance, it helps that I like the taste as well. I am just using the Walmart brand.

    • Esther R. November 29, 2015, 2:39 pm

      I just made this and I don’t use sugar. I used 1 tsp. of stevia and 1/2 cup of Xylitol. I don’t know if thats sweet enough, I’ll add more if I need to when it’s made up.

  • BettyLou November 3, 2015, 10:28 pm

    I have to tell you…this is the best recipe I have found. I just used a bag of dry milk (1 qt. size) that I get with my meals on wheels every 2 weeks in my blender with hot water, hershey’s dark chocolate and sucrose I get from Walmart. I made the perfect qt. of hot chocolate for myself and I will make the dry mix for Christmas gifts for my great grand children. Which was my ultumate goal in looking for a recipe. I love it. It is delicious. I can have a low cal snack that satisfies my chocolate cravings now. Thank you so much for posting it. I used about 2/3 c. of sucrose to about 4 heaping measuring spoons of dark cocoa. It could be sweeter if one wants it sweeter but I like the rich chocolate taste. I did put about 1/2 tsp of cornstarch in it but I don’t think it did anything good or bad to it. I plan on fridgerating left overs and reheating it in microwave. Love it! Love that you used Hershey’s cocoa powder too. Easy to find and I love the taste. Cheaper than dutch processed.

    • Amy November 5, 2015, 10:54 am

      Hi BettyLou,

      So glad you like the hot chocolate as much as we do!


  • Debbie July 22, 2015, 8:48 pm

    Can you long team this hot chocolate?

  • Abdullahi June 6, 2015, 5:49 am

    Hi Amy,

    I strongly suggest diabetics or sugar scared people use SUCRALOSE to substitute plain sugar in the recipe. It’s a derivative of sugar and with Good stability in culinary uses.
    It is hard to come by but gets the FDA approval. It’s 600-650 times sweeter than sucrose (cane sugar) per weight.


  • Lou January 5, 2015, 10:02 pm

    Why is it necessary to use cornstarch?

    • Amy January 5, 2015, 10:41 pm

      Hi Lou,

      It gives the hot chocolate a slightly thicker consistency, a nod to the almost-pudding kind you find in Europe.


      • Lou January 9, 2015, 5:34 pm

        Thanks Amy. I assume I can try a small amount without cornstarch to see if it comes out ok, or if I like the thicker one better?

        • Amy January 13, 2015, 10:31 am

          Of course! I don’t think it changes the taste at all. Just the consistency.

      • Brett October 17, 2015, 10:34 pm

        I use the Nido Whole Dry Milk to make large batches all the time simply stirring in a large stainless steel bowl with a slotted spoon. However, I also make some other modifications, such as using 2x as much milk (4 cups) and adding Nestle Quik (2 cups). Most pertinent to this thread, I also omit the corn starch and add pudding mix instead. The latter adds the capability of adding some different flavors as well.

    • Tye February 18, 2015, 8:23 pm

      You should be able to swap out half as much arrowroot powder for the cornstarch if you prefer to avoid corn products.

  • Barbara Bell January 1, 2015, 12:37 pm

    When I make my own hot chocolate, I add instant coffee granules, vanilla, a little cinnamon and a little dried ground/grated orange peel, and call it “(Family Name) Brand Instant Cappuccino Mix.” Running it through the food processor breaks up the orange peel and helps pulverize and blend everything else together. There will still be tiny pieces of orange peel in the mixture but I like the flavour so I just use them anyway. You could probably avoid this by using orange extract instead of, or in addition to, the vanilla. The moisture added by the flavouring extract(s) does not appear to affect the keeping quality of the mix, but if a person was concerned about this, it could be kept in the refrigerator.

  • Judy December 22, 2014, 7:40 pm

    I am trying this recipe for the first time two days before Christmas (it’s how I roll, lol). I hope I will be able to find the Callebaut cocoa in Walmart or one of the grocery stores. I was thinking of making a mocha blend. Have you experimented with that?

    • Amy December 31, 2014, 9:48 pm

      Hi Judy,

      I hope you figured out a substitute. As you may have noticed in the intro, some suggested alternatives are Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa or Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa, both which get top ratings in blind taste tests.

      I’ve never tried a mocha blend, but I say, go for it!


  • may December 5, 2014, 10:16 pm

    Can you use this recipe to make chocolate milk instead of hot chocolate?

    • Amy December 9, 2014, 10:22 am

      Hi May,

      You could, but remember that the largest ingredient is powdered milk, so you’d probably want to add water (not milk). Also I’m not sure the powdered mix would dissolve well in cold water, so that’s another factor you might want to consider.


  • Susan December 3, 2014, 3:10 pm

    Once we have this mix all mixed up my question is how much water do we use for an 8oz cup etc? For the dry cocoa I use Saco brand.

    Thank you,

    • Amy December 3, 2014, 4:51 pm

      Hi Sue,

      The original recipe calls for 1/2 dry mix and 1/2 water, or 1 part mix to 1 part water. For example, if you want to drink a mug of hot chocolate, just fill half of it with mix and half with hot water. That’s it!


      • Marcia December 5, 2014, 2:40 pm

        I just made this and it’s wonderful! For our tastes, use about 1/3 cup mix to 8 ounces hot water. That’s about 1 to 1, but maybe easier than eyeballing the measurements. thank you for a recipe that’s frugal and avoids all the added unpronounceable ingredients.

        • Amy December 9, 2014, 10:24 am

          Hi Marcia,

          Thank you for sharing your results — I’m glad you like the recipe so much!


  • k pundt October 26, 2014, 12:06 pm

    Frontier Natural Products out of Norway, Iowa has outstanding cocoa….so much better than grocery store cocoa, as well as terrific organic spices and extracts.

  • Elle June 16, 2014, 5:19 am

    Hi Amy. This is amazing as I was on the lookout for a homemade cocoa mix without the nasty creamer. However, your recipe is for a big batch. Kindly teach me how to make a serving for one (taste test). Thank you :)

    • Amy July 25, 2014, 10:44 am

      Dear Elle,

      I’m so sorry that I don’t know how to make a one-cup serving. I have to buy a large bag of cocoa to make this recipe, so I’ve always just made a big batch. I bet you’ll like it!


    • Maria October 2, 2015, 5:38 pm

      I just made a single serving with this as the base recipe. I used about 2 tbs of brown sugar (couldn’t find any other kinds in the house at the moment) 1tbs of hersheys dark cocoa, a pinch of cinnamon and a dash of salt(literally less than 10little grains). Mixed it with a spoon in a mug. Poured in milk(I drink organic 2%, but I would think any would work) till the mug was half full, stirred ingredients together as well as it would mix, then filled it all the way(with milk). Put it in the microwave on top of a small bowl(in case it spilled) for 1.5min. And (الحمد لله) yummmmm! Delicious!!! :) thanks for sharing your recipe!!! Lol I just needed a quick fix of hot cocoa as the weather is getting cooler, don’t drink it often enough to make a batch for later. But I will definitely store this in my memory for the next time I need a quick fix ;)

  • Rebecca December 31, 2013, 11:36 pm

    Just made some, but without Dutch cocoa powder. It was still wonderful even with regular cocoa powder- this is a keeper! For those of you who are looking for a better, natural sugar substitute, I stumbled across a product called Whey Low in a magazine article written by a dietitian. I was curious and was able to find two of the products at a local (but expensive) health food store. It is made with fructose and lactose sugars, and has a low glycemic index. They make regular granulated, powdered, brown, extra fine (ice cream sugar), and even a maple syrup powder. It measures just like sugar, but it is expensive (about $13 for 2 pounds). I do not have to use this on a daily (usually reserved for my sorbets and ice creams now, as it’s a low calorie substitute too), but I think it is a great product, and share it when I see a need.

    • Linda February 15, 2014, 12:08 pm

      Please note that some people are not able to digest Fructose and Lactose. For them, regular sucrose would be best because it is more digestable. Also substitutes for processed sugar should not contain mannitol, sorbitol, or any other “-itol” sweetener. These are highly indigestable. Same goes for “sugar-free” candies and desserts.

      • Rebecca January 3, 2015, 1:00 am

        The Whey Low product states that even people who are Lactose intolerant can safely use the product. I assume that people who have issues with lactose and fructose would just use regular sugar, or look up the product information. I simply wanted to share this for people like myself who avoid all the “-itol” sweeteners and other artificial sweeteners, but are looking for a ‘diet’ sugar, and for the many diabetic readers who had posted comments below about needing to avoid regular sugar.

        • stab December 6, 2015, 6:33 pm

          Excellent suggestions from all comments. For sweetening I suggest one suitable for diabetics and others that tatstes perfectly like sugar called xylitol or Splenda found in some groceries and on line. Sweeter than sugar use i/4 less in your recipe. It can be easily dissolved in the heating process or use powdered zylitol. Both rather spendy but lasts indefinitely. It can be purchased on line to Zylitol

        • Stan December 6, 2015, 6:39 pm

          I left out one very important point about zylitol. It is 100 percent nautral and comes from native hardwood trees, with health benefits, it attacks tooth decay and is used in candy and syrups , even catsup and artificial honey and chocolates.

  • Katherine December 8, 2013, 2:16 pm

    This recipe is fantastic!

  • Billie Jo November 28, 2013, 2:55 pm

    This is the rich hot cocoa my grandmother used to make! I love it! So do my customers! Thank you for sharing this recipe with us!

    Billie Jo

  • mindy November 27, 2013, 4:10 pm

    I am not a fan of non-organic confectioners sugar. I just learned how to make my own using granulated sugar. Now, I am using organic raw sugar (the less processed the better/healthier the product) and use a blender to turn it into powder. Here is how you do it.

    To make XXX sugar: 1 cup granulated or raw sugar (if you use raw you need to blend a bit longer) and 1 tsp. corn starch. Pour into blender or spice grinder and blend for 1 min. (or longer if using RAW sugar).

    • Christy K January 8, 2015, 7:31 pm

      Thanks for this. I keep putting off finding a recipe for homemade hot chocolate, was excited to quickly finding this and wanted to immediately give it a try. Don’t have powdered sugar! Going to go give your tip and this recipe a try now. Thanks to both of you!

  • Robin November 27, 2013, 3:22 pm

    Splenda, Truvia, Nectrese are all artificial also. Stevia itself is natural and Monk fruit with just dextrose is natural, but beware of the others they are processed too.

  • health benefits of cocoa August 25, 2013, 5:38 pm

    Good information. Lucky me I ran across your site by chance (stumbleupon).
    I’ve bookmarked it for later!

  • Janine May 1, 2013, 5:23 pm

    I am in the UK and used Canderel to make up the batch, which is recommended by diabetes UK, (so my mother can drink it) with Tesco Value Milk Powder and Tesco Value Cocoa, I substituted the corn starch for polenta as I know polenta is Gluten Free. It worked very well. I ground it up with my VITAMIX, but I am sure any heavy duty liquidiser/blender would work

  • mindy January 27, 2013, 3:20 pm

    I just want to share this info. I completely understand the issue of Diabetes and the desire to find alternatives to sugar/corn syrup (most processed food is made w/ corn syrup)…but what is little known is how toxic chemical sugar substitute called Aspartame. This product failed numerous times to get FDA approval in the 1970’s until the G.D. Searle Corp. hired Donald Rumsfeld to be their CEO and managed to get Aspartame passed under very suspicious circumstances. There is a great film called “Sweet Misery” that I would recommend people see and consider after doing some research. I’m all about eating/drinking quality foods/drinks which is why I looked up how to make my own cocoa (so I can control what I’m drinking). No diet sodas/sugar free products for me. I just control what I eat/drink and make sure it won’t make me sick.

    • Denise February 2, 2013, 11:08 am

      Thanks for the info. I will check out the film. I am waiting for a sample of Nuctresse which is supposed to be a natural sugar made from the Monk fruit, and maybe that will work. In the meantime I did try Splenda and it worked really well. Splenda does not contain Aspartame so that’s why I use it. I do try to control what I put in my body also, but since I am a diabetic sugar is just not a good option. I do love the idea of making my own instant cocoa so I thank you for sharing your recipe. Your recipe seems to the best one I have seen. In case anyone else is looking at the posts in the future and you do have diabetes Splenda did work but I used half as much Splenda as the powdered sugar. I personally like the chocolaty taste without too much sweetness, but if you like sweet then use 1 1/2 -2 cups of Splenda. Thanks again for a wonderful recipe.

      • Carol October 25, 2013, 2:06 pm

        Has anyone used Stevia in this recipe for diabetics? I’d be interested in the proportions…thanks.

  • Denise January 27, 2013, 2:31 pm

    I am a diabetic and wanted to make cocoa mix with Splenda. Do you think this will work with this recipe as I really like the way this recipe sounds. If you are not familiar with Splenda it is used cup for cup in place of granulated sugar, but Splenda is a lighter fluffier consistency than granulated sugar, so I think will melt well with the hot water. Oh, and I get Dutch Process cocoa from the King Arthur flour company. I don’t have any bakery supply places around me. They sell Bensdorp from Holland for $12.95 a pound. They also sell their all purpose blend for $14.95 a pound. You can find them on line at

    • Amy February 3, 2013, 3:04 pm

      Hi Denise,

      I love King Arthur flour, but I didn’t know they also made cocoa. I’m sorry I can’t help you with the Splenda question, but I’m glad other readers have been pitching in.

      Take care,

  • Lori January 21, 2013, 11:30 am

    Just tried this and it’s PERFECT! Thank you!
    For those finding powdered milk lumps….blending the powder in blender works. No lumps :) Also I used granulated sugar, blended in blender with the 2 tsp cornstarch…voila powdered sugar. 1 3/4 cup granulated powders into 2 cups. :)

    Made a batch using 1 cup Splenda in place of sugar…for hubby, who is diabetic.

    • Amy February 3, 2013, 3:12 pm

      Hi Lori,

      Great idea to smooth out the lumps in the powdered milk BEFORE it gets mixed with all the other ingredients. It’s very hard to tell if the milk is going to be lumpy since the first two batches I made, I had no problems (even though the powder looked lumpy) and the third batch was very lumpy.

      I think the key is getting fresh powdered milk, which is kind-of weird since the whole point of dry milk is that it’s supposed to keep for a long time. Maybe shopping in a well-frequented store is probably the best bet.


  • Mindy December 17, 2012, 10:16 pm

    Yum….now I enjoyed this…but had to make a couple changes. I doubled the powered sugar since it didn’t taste very sweet to me. The powdered milk was not non-fat…but I bought it in a bulk bin at a very busy local shop so I know it is fresh and had no lump problems when mixing in liquid. However, I did use only 2 Tbl. in an 8 oz. cup of both milk and water (I usually use milk but the water works very well too). I am not fond of big globs of chocolate in my drink and really like a mild hot chocolate flavor. I enjoyed this recipe and can’t wait to share it w/ others! thanks!

    • Amy December 19, 2012, 1:21 pm

      Hi Mindy,

      Thank you for sharing your version of the recipe. It’s also good to know that powdered whole milk is not necessarily lumpy; that the lumps are probably related to freshness.

      So glad you had a good experience!


      • mindy January 26, 2013, 7:27 pm

        I added a second cup of xxx sugar to this mix my second batch and liked it a bit better…I prefer a mild chocolate w/ bit more sweet taste. I’m sharing jars w/ my friends!

        • Amy February 3, 2013, 3:05 pm

          Hi Mindy,

          Thanks for sharing your version. I think it’s great that people are adapting the recipe to their own tastes!


  • Pam December 13, 2012, 2:21 pm

    Hi Amy. I just tried the recipe this morning. Delicious! Ok, so I read through the posts before making the recipe and have some suggestions: I combined all the ingredients in a big bowl (I made the smaller batch), stirred thoroughly, and then sifted all the ingredients onto a piece of wax paper (I crushed the little globs of cocoa with the back of a spoon in the sifter). No lumps. Also, I used dark chocolate (Hershey’s) which I love but can be a little bitter. I added an additional half cup of the powdered milk for a creamier consistency. Finally, I added a teaspoon of cinnamon. Gives the recipe a hint of flavor and surprisingly cuts the slight bite of the dark chocolate nicely. Thanks for this recipe. Pam

    • Amy December 13, 2012, 2:35 pm

      Hi Pam,

      Thank you so much for reporting back on your experience! Your method and revised recipe sound great.


  • Angela December 6, 2012, 9:55 pm

    Thank you!! I’ll try that. The funny thing is, I did get the non-fat kind… I read through your message and made sure to get the non-fat kind for that very reason. I’m wondering if it was a box that had been on the shelf for a while (It was a really large box, and I’d imagine powdered milk, especially bulk sized, doesn’t get purchased that often… especially here in southern California, where everyone is switching to nut based milk for health reasons lol)

    • Amy December 13, 2012, 2:34 pm

      Hi Angela,

      Your comment is helping me see that perhaps the lumps are due to the freshness (or lack thereof) of the powdered milk. I was once told that it’s best to buy food from stores that have a high turnover. Unlike produce, things like spices and dried beans (and dry milk) wouldn’t necessarily look old, so one way to ensure they are fresh is to shop at busy stores that move merchandise constantly.

      Thanks for your insights,

  • Angela December 6, 2012, 7:35 pm

    This was only OK. I’ve made homemade hot cocoa before, but for home use, where I just make a small amount and use real milk, without any powdered milk. It had a similar taste to the cocoa I’ve made in the past, but was chunky from the powdered milk. I made the double batch so that I could give it out as gifts, but I sort of feel bad that it’s lumpy. I tried it with water and with milk… It was about the same both ways, but a little creamier with milk. I was looking at another recipe that had really similar ratios, but had some mini chocolate chips and crushed peppermint in it. I’m thinking I’ll try to salvage this by adding 10 cups of mini chocolate chips and maybe even a little peppermint… I’m not sure on the mint yet. Also, I’m putting it into a different style of jar than the poster used, and I’m going to have wayyyy more than 10 jars. I don’t remember now if she mentioned the ounces of the jars that she used, but take careful note of it before making the cocoa, or you’ll have overstock like I do.

    • Amy December 6, 2012, 7:42 pm

      Hi Angela,

      I’m sorry to hear about your experience. As I commented here before, I had only used non-fat powdered milk to make this recipe, and it did not lump. This year, the whole milk powder that I used (Nido brand) did lump, so I have noted this on the recipe for the future.

      What I did to remedy the situation was to dump each can into the food processor, which was able to pulverize all the lumps, and the hot chocolate was saved.

      I hope you can salvage your batch too,

  • Pam December 4, 2012, 11:01 pm

    Hello There. I would like to flavor my hot chocolate mix. I’m thinking cinnamon with a little nutmeg mix(too much nutmeg can be bitter) or mint (crushed candy canes) but don’t know the proportions for a small batch (as a test for my home stash) and big batch for gifts. Can you make any suggestions? Thanks and happy holidays to you and your family.

    • Amy December 5, 2012, 7:00 am

      Hi Pam,

      The big batch recipe is approximately 8 times the basic recipe. So I would take the amount you think tastes good in the basic recipe (the one that makes 5.5 cups of mix) and then multiply it by 8.

      Your ideas sound yummy!

  • Jenn December 4, 2012, 6:08 pm

    Thanks for this! I’ve been researching recipes all this week and finally settled on yours, with a few tweaks. Delicious! I used Ghiradelli cocoa, but I usually use Penzey’s, then added a bit more sugar and about 8 T. of cornstarch. I like my cocoa Spanish style, which is rather thick. It all mixed perfectly! Thanks!

    • Amy December 5, 2012, 7:01 am

      Hi Jenn,

      I’m so glad you are happy with the recipe. In Italy they have really thick hot chocolate too — almost like pudding — so I know what you are talking about!


  • Shannon December 2, 2012, 2:28 pm

    Just made this and not really a fan. :( My powdered milk didn’t dissolve and little bits floated to the top. Didn’t look pretty. Did I do something wrong? Do you think runningit through a food processor may have helped?

    • Amy December 2, 2012, 9:18 pm

      Hi Shannon,

      I’m so sorry to hear that the mix didn’t come out well! Did you use whole milk? I have always used nonfat powdered milk (like Saco or other generic brands I find at the grocery store), but just this year I used Nido whole milk. (The only reason was that my husband did the shopping and that’s what he found.)

      I just mixed up an entire big batch (11 coffee cans full) with this whole milk, and I noticed the little lumps of dry milk, but I have not yet mixed it with water since I was getting the mix ready for gifting.

      I’m so sorry about your experience, and I want to thank you for taking the time to report back. I’ll test my hot chocolate to see if it performs the same way, and if it does, I think what I’m going to do is dump each can of hot chocolate mix into the food processor and try to break up those lumps.

      I’ll let you know if that helps the issue. In the future, I think I’ll stick to nonfat milk, since I’ve never had problems with it before.

      Thanks again for checking in Shannon,

    • Amy December 4, 2012, 6:36 am

      Hi Shannon,

      So I went back and dumped each of my cans of hot chocolate into the food processor, and I was able to get rid of the lumps of dry milk by running the machine for a few minutes.

      It was definitely a lot more trouble and mess, so I will make a note in the recipe NOT to use whole milk.

      Thanks for pointing this problem out,

  • Billie November 20, 2012, 10:18 pm

    Hi Amy,

    When I’ve made different mixes in the past I always have trouble with my powdered milk not reconstituting well. Do you ever have this problem? Can you recommend one that mixes well with hot water without the tiny lumps? I don’t want to gift it and have to say, “just skim the lumps off, it’s delicious!”

    • Amy November 20, 2012, 10:26 pm

      Hi Billie,

      I’ve never had that happen before. Are you using nonfat milk? That’s the kind I use, because that was all I could find frankly, and I never had a problem with lumps. Last year I used Saco powdered milk, after finding a large box on Amazon, and it worked great.

      I hope this helps!

  • chris November 13, 2012, 1:39 pm

    Can I freeze the hot chocolate mix?

    • Amy November 13, 2012, 1:45 pm

      I would think so, Chris! It’s made with all dry ingredients, and things usually keep better in the freezer. However, I’ve never tried it, so I don’t know for sure.

      Good luck!

  • Mark November 11, 2012, 11:21 am

    Hi Ami.
    I have been looking for a recipe like this, I think, for a football concession stand, which benefits the our school’s band. I am taking over the organizing of the stand for next year and want to have better products, food and drink. Dutch cocoa may be a bit pricey for us, as we are trying to make as much as we can, but still have a good tasting product. A couple of questions, is the cocoa going to make that much difference to most people/kids, and how many servings are in a large batch? For the season that just ended, they used mixes that were bought from Sams club/GFS stores. They mixed up 3-2 pound bags for 5 gallons of hot water. I was not a huge fan of this concoction.
    I have also read comments on Alton’s recipe, and saw that some people say to use Nido, which is a whole milk product vs. the non-fat milk product that is more commonly found in stores. Have you tried it with that change?


    • Amy November 11, 2012, 3:43 pm

      Hi Mark,

      I think the quality of the chocolate makes a big difference, but I totally get that Callebaut is pricey. Maybe you could find another Dutch-“processed” (not necessarily from Holland) cocoa that costs less. On the other hand, maybe the cocoa is an area where you could cut corners, since people at a band event probably won’t expect gourmet chocolate (unless you want to advertise that and charge more…)

      I have not tried the Nido whole milk powder. If it’s not too hard to find and it’s not too expensive, maybe you could use it paired with a less costly cocoa as a happy medium.

      You asked about servings in a large batch. The large batch makes 44 cups of mix (which makes up about 10 cans of hot chocolate). Since you’d use about 1/2 cup of mix per mug of hot chocolate, then I estimate that it would make about 88 servings, but this is just a guestimate.

      I hope this helps — and good luck with the fundraiser!


    • Barb November 18, 2015, 8:22 pm

      For Mark and other fundraisers:
      Since you are going to GFS already for other needs, consider that GFS also has cocoa. Using cocoa and making your own mix is better than using the pre made mix. Unless you are trying for gourmet chocolate as you would in gifting, this cocoa is very good and affordable for fund raising cups of hot chocolate.

  • Pat November 7, 2012, 3:14 pm

    I guess I’m missing something here…sorry to be so dull….but the ingred. were for the same size batch..(Big Batch)..sounds like it calls for “2-2# powd.sugar) which would be 4#–right? THEN the very next ingred. is another “1-1# box powd. sugar” which would be 1#. Which is it? 4# powd. sugar or 1# powd. sugar? Thanks!

    • Amy November 7, 2012, 3:52 pm

      For the big batch recipe, please refer to the recipe stated “Big Batch Recipe of Gourmet Hot Chocolate”

      Makes 44 cups of mix (about 10 cans of hot chocolate)

      One 2.2 lb. bag of Callebaut cocoa powder
      Two 2 lb. bags plus 2 cups of powdered sugar
      20 cups of powdered milk
      8 teaspoons of salt
      16 teaspoons of cornstarch

      The other list is one designed to help you with shopping for the ingredients.

  • Pat November 7, 2012, 1:44 pm

    Hi Amy! I’m confused over the list of ingred. for the Big Batch of Hot Choc. Mix.
    You said 2-2# of powdered sugar and then the next ingred. was 1-1# box powdered sugar…..Don’t understand…Please clarify. Sounds good tho! Thanks! Pat

    • Amy November 7, 2012, 1:49 pm

      Hi Pat,

      Yes, that list is the shopping list. I tried to make it easier for people by listing the ingredients according to how food is packaged. (Powdered sugar comes in 1 or 2 lb. boxes, but not 3 lb.) The other lists are the real recipes: one small batch and one large batch. Hope this helps!


  • Olivia Hmelnitsky February 25, 2012, 4:21 am

    This looks so delicious and the instructions are straightforward.
    I will get some chocolate & cocoa powder from the market this weekend and give it a try – thank you for the recipe.

  • Earlean February 19, 2012, 12:08 am

    I just love chocolate, and always looking for new recipes. They sounds like perfectly wonderful Hot Chocolate to me! Thanks for sharing.

    • Amy February 20, 2012, 2:24 pm

      Hi Earlean,

      You have to try it! It’s not like any other hot chocolate you’ve tasted, I’m sure.

      Thanks for writing in,

  • Samantha @ Let's Get Digital December 24, 2011, 12:35 am

    We just tried this – and it’s really rich and delicious! I found $1.50 tins at the drugstore to package it up for gifting. See how they look here – Thanks again Amy for the great recipe and printable.

  • ami hart December 18, 2011, 7:18 pm

    I’m excited to try this. Just thought I’d leave a suggestion though. Rather than order the cocoa online, call around to the bakery supply sources in your area. I can get a 11 lb bag of Belgian dutch cocoa (thouh I can’t remember if it is callebeaut) for about $30. Not A bad price. I would ask about the oust ingredients as well. Most places I’ve dealt with will sell to individuals, and it is so much cheaper than ordering online.

    Sorry about all the spelling errors. I’m doing this from my phone.

    • Amy December 18, 2011, 8:50 pm

      Hi Ami,

      I really appreciate your thoughts on this. $30 for an 11-lb bag — as opposed to 2 lbs — is amazing! I think I might try this idea next year, so I can make even more hot chocolate!

      Thanks for writing in,

      • Ami Hart November 20, 2012, 1:36 am

        Just thinking about making this again and thought I would follow up on my comment from last year. The 11 lb bag of cocoa I always get is Bensdorp and I’ve been happy with it. However, since I was wondering how the flavors differ between Bensdorp (technically owned by Callebaut) and actual Callebaut, I called the bakery supply store I always use here on Long Island. They do carry Callebaut cocoa, but only in 50lb bags. The cost for the bag is about $185. Considering you are paying upwards of $60 for 4.4 lbs. The giant bag is a steal. (Although it may be priced differently in your area). The problem might just be, what to do with the other 45 lbs of cocoa…

        • Amy November 20, 2012, 8:51 pm

          Hi Ami,

          So glad you’re back!

          And I’m with you on the dangers of buying a huge bag of cocoa. It would only save you money if you were going to use the whole 50 lb. bag — now that’s a LOT of hot chocolate. And since the cocoa loses flavor after a few months, I would not advise buying such a huge quantity.

          Get this: I just checked Cooks Illustrated and they also tested supermarket cocoa, and Hershey’s Natural Cocoa Unsweetened came out on top. Second was Droste Cocoa, and the third was Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa. At $3.49 for an 8-oz. can, it’s about half the cost of Callebaut.

          I might have to try Hershey’s this year! I hope this helps, Ami.


  • Samantha @ Let's Get Digital December 16, 2011, 2:13 pm

    This is great, thanks Amy! I just ordered the Callebaut from I got 5% cash back on my order from eBates, and found a RetailMeNot coupon code that worked for another 10% off (MYCHOC10). For anyone not familiar with these tools, I wrote about them both here: Love this savings combo.

    • Amy December 16, 2011, 2:58 pm

      Hi Samantha,

      Thank you so much for the savings tips! I love both Ebates and Retailmenot — and together ,as you say — they’re even better! Good thinking, Samantha, because I noticed when I wrote this post that Amazon is all out of Callebaut.

      I know you’ll love the hot chocolate!


  • Jen @ Jen Spends December 16, 2011, 11:01 am

    I’ve been wanting to make some homemade mix for our house rather than buying it, and this recipe sounds great! I would never have thought to use powdered sugar rather than granulated.

  • Kristie December 16, 2011, 9:31 am

    We made hot chocolate last year with my Girl Scout troop & I had them put all of the ingredients in a fresh garbage bag & shake to mix. This sounds great…I’m going to try your recipe this year. Thanks!

    • Amy December 16, 2011, 2:55 pm

      Hi Kristie,

      What a great idea to use a clean trash bag!
      Thank you for the tip,


  • Marian December 15, 2011, 10:09 pm

    This hot chocolate is DEE-licious! Really extra special. As a recipient of last year’s batch, I can attest to it.