Monday, January 28, 2013

Make Your Own Hot Cocoa Mix - How and Why

Everybody loves a nice steamy cup of hot cocoa and these days, it's as easy to make as pouring hot water into a cup and mixing in some powder.

But do you want to know what's gross? Spending seven dollars for a large tub of premade powder, and opening it up to discover it's only 2/3's of the way full.

Do you know what's grosser than that? Supporting companies like or Nestle, who's business and manufacturing practices are deeply unethical and cause a lot of damage to our global community.*

And it gets even worse. Just look at the items on the ingredients list. Then, as if to insult your intelligence, Nestle claims their cocoa powder mix is good for you! They think you can't read (actually, they expect you're too busy or too lazy to read).

I don't claim to have the worlds healthiest diet, you will not find a complete absence of junk food in my home. I buy cheap sandwich cookies for my kids to snack on every week, and make most of my cakes from a mix. Oh, and I do buy canned frosting.

I haven't bought hot cocoa mixes in many, many years because I'm too frugal to bother. Besides it tastes so much better when you make it from home, even though it is more work to cook it on the stove.

Last week, my husband went to the store, and he did bring home the dreaded 1.73lbs. can of Nestle Cocoa powder. Rather than fret, I thought I would take the opportunity to do some comparing for the benefit of my household and for you!

Here is the basic recipe:

1 part cocoa powder
2 parts sugar (adjust to your liking)
2 parts nonfat dry milk

You can mix the ingredients and put them into a jar. It doesn't need to be fancy, you can see I used an old jelly jar I had saved.
I did take the above photo before mixing so that you can see the ratio. It is very handy to mix in a blender, especially if you are using raw sugar, in order to break up the clumps of dry milk, cocoa, and powder the sugar.
It will look like this afterward.
You stir this into hot water, just like other mixes. You can also add it to coffee or tea.

A couple of things about this cocoa mix. You will note that there are exactly 5 ingredients, rather than the 16 found in the Nestle. And although there is processing involved in the individual ingredients, I can say that dry milk contains no artificial growth hormones, and that the cocoa powder was not processed in unnatural ways (it was not processed with alkali). You may also have noticed that it is fat free.
Now look at the label on the Nestle Can:

Not only are there over 16 highly processed ingredients on the label, but many of them are synthetic.
If you were to look up each of these ingredients (Wikipedia has information on all of them), you would find that some of them are known to have harmful side effects.
The biggest offender would be the artificial flavoring, simply because many flavorings aren't even tested for what they might do to us if we ingest them. Incidentally, if the cocoa in the Nestle hadn't been processed with alkali, which not only reduces the antioxidants by a large percent, the flavor would have been deeper and there would be no need for added fake flavoring.

What's really bothersome about this label, however is the fact that Nestle is actually claiming this stuff is healthy for you. There a few antioxidants, but far less than you would find in regularly processed cocoa powder. The calcium is also minute. Consider that there absolutely 0% vitamins, and very little protein, healthy carbs, or fiber, the very notion that anything in this can could be considered nutritionally valuable is revolting.
* Claims against Nestle as an unethical food company are due to multiple infractions including: Buying cocoa from companies which use child slave labor, buying ingredients from unethically seized farms, targeting young children for the sale of nutritionally deficient unhealthy foods, destruction of rainforest (palm oil harvesting), misleading mothers about the harmful effects of infant formula and persuading them to not breastfeed, coveting and abusing natural water sources in the production of bottled water, and denying workers rights across the globe.

**While I shop at Aldi, which claims to be an ethical company (don't they all?) I admit that the origin of their food is quite obscure and it is difficult to find out any information on their products. There have not been any good or bad reports, but I cannot in good conscience claim that the cocoa I am using is the product of fair trade practices. I can only make choices based on information that I have, with in the constraints of my families budget. If you have any concrete and provable information on the origins and integrity of Aldi products, please let us know in the comments below.


  1. Yummy! I make my own chocolate syrup which is the same as your mix, only I add water as I cook it on the stove. When the kids want hot coco, I add it to warm milk. I like this recipe because it is a bit more shelf stable than the syrup.

    I have heard it's hard to find Aldi's sources because many of the name brand companies make products just for Aldi. It is cheaper than the big stores because they don't advertise. Someone said if you take the time to compare customer service numbers you can figure out which company is which. We shop at Aldi alot too and I have been pleased with their products (taste-wise and, of course, price). My swear their "frosted flakes" are better than the name brand!

  2. I love to make hot cocoa at home with my kids. We were grinding the cocoa and then adding warm milk. It's a bit of work but worth it. I purchase the cocoa from a health food store. But I haven't been back to that store for a few months, so the last two times we bought fudge from the store. This reminds me to go to the health food store and stock back up on my bulk whatnots. Thanks for the recipe. :)

  3. Laura, thanks for the chocolate syrup idea! Karlie is always trying to put the chocolate syrup into the basket so she can have chocolate milk.

    Babymotherandgoddess, I never would have considered grinding my beans, but wow that seems like fun. I can only imagine how fresh the cocoa would taste! I will keep my eye out for the whole beans.

  4. You mention 5 ingredients, but I only see 3. What am I missing? If you are counting water, that's still only 4 :) BTW, thanks for the recipe :)