It is negative 6 degrees today in the Chicago area. I'm wearing long underwear, a hat, and three pairs of socks—inside!!!—and I'm still freezing! Sounds like the perfect time for hot chocolate. Here's a roundup of some favorite brands...
My hands-down favorite hot cocoa is Starbucks' Signature Hazelnut Hot Chocolate. But let's face it: These days who has the money for this fancy brand? Luckily there are tasty, budget-friendly alternatives out there.
Cook's Country Magazine (from America's Test Kitchen) taste-tested several brands of hot cocoa mixes in their most recent issue. Godiva was the clear winner; while mixes by Ghirardelli, Nestle, and Barefoot Contessa were close behind. And the brands that didn't make the cut? Hershey's, Starbucks, Land O'Lakes, and Swiss Miss.
Epicurious.com did a similar taste test of its own, and Nestle and Land O'Lakes came out on top this time.
My aunt prefers to make her own cocoa mix and after trying her concoction on a chilly winter morning last week, I have to agree. Her version is rich and chocolaty but not syrupy sweet. Plus, it's fairly cheap to do—much cheaper than the gourmet brands mentioned above but on par price-wise with the supermarket brands.
1.5 cups unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
In food processor, blend cocoa, sugar, chocolate, and salt until almost smooth. Store in tightly sealed container in pantry for up to 6 months. To make: mix 3 tablespoon mix with 1 cup milk. Microwave on high 1.5-2 minutes.
What kind of hot chocolate do you drink?