power of the pause- hot chocolate mix

I thought I had paced myself this December to create some space for breathing. Even with good intentions, decorating, shopping, gatherings, parties, rehearsals, and performances filled up the to-do list and crowded out the silent moments. If one such moment appeared, it was filled with dvr'd TV. (Hello, Homeland! Scandal! Goodbye blog posts.)

The pause, the time you make and take to be quiet, is so necessary this time of year. Without it, you'd go crazy. I did find a few moments here and there. One such moment was made all the sweeter when accompanied by a cup of homemade hot cocoa.

Cook's Illustrated recommends using Hershey's unsweetened chocolate, which you grind up with cornstarch, milk powder, sugar, salt, vanilla and some baking cocoa.

Bring some whole milk to simmer, then add the hot cocoa mix. 5 minutes later, you have one serious cup of über rich, chocolatey cocoa. This recipe is definitely not for the faint of heart and definitely for the chocolate lover. I would almost call it an adult cup of cocoa, except for the fact that The 13-year Old Son enjoyed his back-from-school cup. I was bracing myself to hear him comment "Where's the Swiss Miss?" and was pleasantly surprised with his positive response.

I hope you have been able to hit the pause button at some point this past month and enjoyed a peaceful moment or two.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and Holidays to you!

The Best Hot Chocolate Mix
from Cook's Illustrated, November & December 2014

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1 cup (3 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup (1½ ounces) nonfat dry milk powder
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon kosher salt

Process all ingredients in food processor until ground to powder, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 2 months.

For one serving of hot chocolate, heat 1 cup whole, 2% or 1% low-fat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts to steam and bubles appear around the edge of the saucepan. Add ¼ cup of hot chocolate mix and continue to heat, whisking constantly, until simmering, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug and serve.


  1. Loved this post! The pause is what I look forward to most this time of year - Listening to Christmas music and gazing at the lights on the tree! Wishing you and your family a Very Merry Christmas!

  2. Thanks for this recipe! I love a good hot chocolate to warm my chilled bones here in snowy Switzerland. Swiss Miss certainly doesn't cut it. Ha.

  3. I would die for a cup of this hot chololate! It's so delicious!

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