We cranked up the woodstove for the first time this season last night at Inn Serendipity. The cool, fall nighttime breezes have arrived here in Wisconsin, and that means just one thing: time for hot cocoa. But not just any hot cocoa. When my husband, John Ivanko, and I moved from Chicago apartments to our Wisconsin farm, we traded convenience for countryside. No more quick runs to the mini mart store at the end of the urban block for a missing ingredient. . With civilization now a fifteen-minute drive away, I’ve learned the art of self-sufficiency by creatively making store bought mixes with pantry ingredients.
Hot cocoa serves up a good example of how making your own mixes from pantry staples deliver benefits on multiple fronts:
1. Increase Ingredient Quality
By making my own hot cocoa mix, I can prioritize organic and Fair Trade ingredients, from my dry milk powder from Organic Valley Family of Farms to cocoa from Equal Exchange to sugar from Wholesome Sweeteners. Plus all the various additives and preservatives are avoided. By selecting companies like Equal Exchange, we know that the growers who produced the coffee or cacao beans were paid a fair wage—far above the market—and treated respectfully, not exploited as “cheap labor.”
2. Save Money
Cup for cup, the cost of this homemade cocoa comes in significantly less than the store bought variety. Plus, because I mix up a big batch in bulk, it is one less thing I need to pick up at the grocery store, saving the resource cost of transport.
3. Save Packaging
Between those individual, non-recyclable packets to the boxes, processed hot cocoa mix can be a packaging hot. By storing the mix in recycled glass jars, you can avoid all that waste.
Here’s our farm favorite recipe, which makes a big batch that will warm you through many a cool and crisp fall night. Feel free to cut the quantities in half or to taste.
Homemade Organic Hot Cocoa
From Edible Earth: Savoring the Good Life with Vegetarian Recipes from Inn Serendipity
5 ½ c. dry milk powder from Organic Valley
1 c. plus 2 T. sugar
¾ c. unsweetened cocoa from Equal Exchange
* Combine all ingredients. Stir well.
* Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
To make one serving:
1/3 c. hot chocolate mix
¾ c. water
¼ t. vanilla extract
Directions to make one serving:
* Bring water to a boil.
* Add mix and blend well. Add vanilla.
Photo Credit: SallyRye under Creative Commons