The cold winter month essentials include warm blankets, a stylish and comfy beanie, and a warm cup of hot cocoa to warm your evenings. While you can make a mix from scratch with some cocoa powder, sugar, and powdered milk, many buy hot cocoa mixes from the store. However, this can lead to a surplus of powder in your pantry and questions about what else you can do with all that drink powder.
It's something I've had to ponder for many years, especially after gift swaps and the Christmas season have left me with more packets of hot chocolate than I know what to do with. Here are some of the best ways to use hot cocoa powder for more than a tasty winter beverage, all of which may give you a newfound appreciation for the humble packet of Swiss Miss left in the back of your cabinet.
Transform The Frosting For Your Favorite Cupcake Recipe
There's certainly nothing wrong with decadent buttercream icing, but there is something even more magical about adding hot chocolate mix to your next batch of frosting. The key to making a smooth, creamy icing is to combine the hot chocolate mix with heavy cream before adding it to your mixture of powdered sugar and whipped butter. This will ensure there is less of a grainy texture and more of a smooth whip.
Once your hot chocolate frosting is made, use it to glaze any medley of baked goods. Chocolate or vanilla cupcakes are both viable options. However, you might consider using the infused buttercream to sandwich between two of your favorite cookies. It's also the secret to a seasonal garnish along the rim of a glass of boozy hot chocolate.
Add It To Cake Mix
A divine chocolate cake is closer than you'd think with the help of a powdered hot chocolate mix. There are numerous ways to utilize this ingredient in your recipe. You can add it to the dry ingredients as a substitute for some of the cocoa powder or mix it with a bit of heavy cream or water and add it to the liquid ingredients for your cake. The latter will impart a moister texture to your dessert, especially if you combine it with a thicker liquid, like heavy cream, instead of water.
If you're going the liquid route, it's crucial to ensure you've brought your hot chocolate to room temperature before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. If your hot chocolate is too hot, it can curdle the eggs, causing a textural issue in your crumb. Alternatively, you can soak the cake in cooled hot chocolate for a burst of flavor.
Toss Your Popcorn In It
Hot popcorn and a good holiday movie are a perfect combination -- but you can upgrade your popcorn recipe to better fit the season with a bit of hot chocolate mix.
Start with freshly popped, warm popcorn. You'll want to use unflavored popcorn for this recipe; buttered or salted popcorn will alter the flavor you're trying to achieve. From there, you can add a bit of melted chocolate to the popcorn and other ingredients, like marshmallow pieces. Our pick of chocolate is white chocolate since it will impart the most neutral flavor to the popcorn and allow the hot chocolate powder you sprinkle on at the end to be the star. However, you can also use candy melts or your favorite milk chocolate bar for this recipe to double up the chocolate flavor.
Make Your Pancake Mix Memorable
After you've slathered your flapjacks in maple syrup, butter, and whipped cream, we think they deserve the "dessert" title, even if some people only think of them in the breakfast camp. Add leftover hot chocolate to pancake batter to amp up the flavor and find a good use for it. This recipe couldn't be easier: Substitute some of the liquid in your recipe for your hot chocolate mixture.
If you make hot chocolate with water, substitute some water in your pancake recipe. Or, if you go with the milk (which we prefer), swap out some of the milk. When making the swap, however, it's important to remember that the texture of a pancake made with a hot chocolate mix may not be the same as a traditional one; the milk solids in the mixture may change this aspect.
Add More Chocolatey Flavor To Your Brownies
Fudgy brownies and hot chocolate mix are best friends. Hot chocolate mix makes a great substitute for cocoa powder in your traditional brownie mix; the sweetness of the powder will also amplify the flavor of your brownie while keeping things perfectly moist during the baking time. Like other hot chocolate recipes, we recommend avoiding a hot chocolate mix that contains any powdered milk or dairy solids because it can alter the texture of your brownie.
Numerous add-ins can work well with this brownie rendition. Add crushed-up candy canes for a seasonal twist, or mix and match your favorite chocolate chips to add some extra fudgy texture. Or, since you're already using a hot cocoa mix, you might as well add some marshmallow pieces, too.
Take Rice Krispies Treats To New Heights
Hot cocoa-infused Rice Krispies treats may become a new favorite recipe in your sweets arsenal. While traditional Rice Krispies treats recipes only include cereal, mini marshmallows, and butter, the upgraded version uses a little bit of hot cocoa powder to make your holiday dreams come true.
The trick to making this recipe is to add your hot cocoa mix with the butter and mini marshmallows while you're melting them. This helps to ensure the hot cocoa powder will dissolve into the mixture rather than staying gritty. You can also substitute Cocoa Krispies for the O.G. Rice Krispies cereal. Add a handful of mini marshmallows to the top of your batch while it's setting, and enjoy these festive treats once cooled.
Amp Up Your Morning Oatmeal
Oatmeal can be a bit plain if your only way to add flavor is with the help of maple syrup, brown sugar, and nuts. For a more flavorful oatmeal that still helps you power through the day, it might be time to consider adding a hot chocolate mix. Besides being a way to get children to eat more oatmeal, this recipe rendition adds a layer of sweetness and chocolate complexity to your breakfast staple.
This recipe can be made on a stovetop or in the microwave. Alongside hot chocolate powder, you'll need to add some cocoa powder to offset its sweetness and add more flavor. You can also play with the recipe by adding another type of sweetener if you like it sweet or enjoy plain oatmeal. For some, the sweetness hot cocoa powder provides is enough to complement any toppings you want to add.
Turn It Into A Fruit Dip
No holiday party is complete without a seasonal fruit dip -- but don't let the name fool you. This dip can be used for more than sliced strawberries or apples. You can also serve it with pretzels, cookies, animal crackers, or potato chips.
Mix your favorite hot chocolate powder (sans marshmallows), marshmallow fluff, and Cool Whip in a stand mixer to make the dip. Ideally, the ingredients should be whipped together until the texture resembles a frosting. In other words, it shouldn't have any lumps of powder or grittiness. Then, you can transfer the mixture to a serving bowl or pop it in your fridge until the party starts. If you aim to create a more adult flavor, add espresso powder or cayenne pepper to the dip for complexity.
Try A Seasonal Rendition Of Muddy Buddies
Muddy Buddies? Puppy Chow? This Midwestern favorite goes by many names, but we call it "delicious." Homestyle Muddy Buddies are traditionally made with Chex cereal coated in peanut butter and melted chocolate before being tossed in powdered sugar. Our version takes it a step up by adding hot chocolate mix.
You can keep the peanut butter in the original recipe or go for a 100% chocolate route. Toss your coated pieces in a plastic bag with the hot cocoa mix and powdered sugar for a bit of hot chocolate flavor in each bite. The secret to making Muddy Buddies that don't stick together is to place the cereal onto a baking sheet and let it dry before storing it. We recommend serving your cereal treats with mini marshmallows mixed in.
Make Your French Toast Extra Chocolatey
Hot chocolate French toast? Don't knock it until you try it. Instead of soaking the bread in a plain custard mixture of milk (or cream), eggs, and vanilla, this variation takes it a step further by soaking the bread slices in pre-made hot chocolate (we recommend going the milk route for maximum richness), whisked eggs, and vanilla extract. Since this mixture is dense — even without the hot chocolate mix — we recommend using sturdy bread slices that will accommodate the weight, like challah or Texas toast.
After you've cooked your hot chocolate French toast, top it with whatever toppings you like. We think it pairs well with freshly sliced strawberries and bananas. Alternatively, you can opt for a chocolate syrup drizzle and whipped cream.
Make An Easy Hot Chocolate Pudding
Pudding may not be the top dessert on our list, but it is still a fantastic option for a crowd or a household with children. If you notice your chocolate pudding recipe is a bit lackluster, you should try to upgrade it with a bit of help from the box of hot chocolate mix in your pantry.
You won't need a powdered pudding mix for this recipe, either. Mix the hot cocoa into steamed milk with egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar, and cook until it's perfectly thick. Once your pudding has chilled in the fridge for a few hours, you can top it with whipped topping and cocoa powder. This recipe is bound to become a family favorite!
Flavor Your Monkey Bread
Perhaps nothing is more satisfying than sticking your fingers into a monkey bread loaf and pulling out a sweet, sugar-glazed morsel. The best part about a hot chocolate version of this classic homestyle recipe isn't only the flavor; it's the fact that you can make it using canned biscuit dough.
Chop the biscuits into bite-sized pieces before coating each in melted butter and rolling them in hot chocolate powder. The sugar in the hot chocolate mix will help stick the pieces together while the chocolatey flavor permeates every crevice. Alternatively, add a layer of chocolate chips or mini marshmallows inside your bundt tin before baking. Serve your hot chocolate monkey bread warm at your next holiday party.
Add A Chocolate Bite To Your Roasted Nuts
Roasted nuts fill your kitchen with inviting smells, but it will be even better if you consider adding your favorite hot chocolate mix to the party. Almonds are our favorite nut to combine with this powder because its mild flavor doesn't detract from the essence of chocolate. You can also get creative and try roasted peanuts, cashews, or pecans. However, note that the baking times on these nuts all differ because of their relative size and fat content.
After you've lightly toasted your nuts in the oven (emphasis on lightly — we don't want any burnt morsels here), toss them in a maple syrup and hot chocolate powder coating. Then, allow them to cool on a baking sheet so they don't stick together and form a singular mass.
Make Your Favorite Adult Cocktail Festive
Cold-weather cocktails hit the spot. However, we think using a hot chocolate base is the best place to start. You can make many plays on a spiked hot chocolate, including a twist on a Dark and Stormy infused with ground ginger and dark rum. Or, pull out your Kahlúa for a twist on a mocha. One of our favorite variations on this beverage is a spiced Grand Marnier hot chocolate made with bittersweet orange liqueur, black peppercorns, allspice berries, and cayenne pepper.
While the original recipe involves making hot cocoa from scratch, you can easily substitute it with your favorite packaged powder. The garnishes for these alcoholic hot cocoa vary and include infused whipped cream, marshmallows, or anise.
Make An Easy Mocha Beverage At Home
People pay a lot of money for a mocha from a coffee shop. A packet of hot chocolate mix allows you to make an easy, inexpensive version at home. You can also use this simple hot chocolate hack to transform a bad cup of coffee into something remarkable.
To try it out, add the powder directly to a cup of black coffee, stirring well until dissolved. Or, add leftover hot chocolate to brewed coffee as a replacement for coffee creamer. You can also make a hybrid beverage with instant coffee powder. Mix the instant coffee with your hot cocoa mix and add hot water to whip up a mocha coffee in a jiffy. Add this mixture to lattes, breves, and everything in between.
Swirl It Into Cheesecake Batter
Three words: hot cocoa cheesecake. Seriously, is there anything more exciting than that? Infuse your cheesecake filling and crust with hot cocoa mix; it will be the star of your next winter gathering. Start by adding hot cocoa mix to your graham cracker crust with the melted butter. If you prefer, substitute graham crackers for another crispy cookie or Oreos.
Whip the cheesecake filling together with your standard ingredients, along with a hefty portion of the powder. You'll want to whip the mixture enough that the sugar and the mix dissolve but not so much that the cream cheese is overwhipped and won't bake correctly in your water bath. If you're an inexperienced cheesecake baker, fear not: You can also make this recipe a no-bake cheesecake by whipping the powder in with cream cheese and whipped topping.
Upgrade Your Batch Of Homemade Ice Cream
I scream, you scream, we all scream for hot chocolate ice cream! You'll only need a few ingredients for this simple ice cream — and you can ditch the heavy and space-consuming ice cream maker, too. Add the hot chocolate mix to your heavy whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk and mix until well combined before pouring it into a container and letting it harden for a few hours. If you plan on adding chocolate chips or marshmallows to your mixture, we always recommend waiting until you pour it into the pan or immediately before serving since these chunks can inhibit your ice cream from setting correctly. Serve your homemade ice cream with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and crushed peppermint candies for a delicious seasonal treat.
Add It To Cookie Dough
Our favorite way, by far, to use hot chocolate mix is to incorporate it into a cookie. You can make hot chocolate cookies by adding the powder to a standard soft sugar cookie recipe with the rest of the dry ingredients. Like any good cookie, you should always allow ample time for the dough to chill so the flavors can concentrate. We also recommend using Mallow Bits for this recipe instead of traditional marshmallows because they won't harden up after baking like the normal ones do.
The hot chocolate mix also works well in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe because it imparts a subtle chocolate flavor. This extra ingredient pairs well with almost any chocolate, nuts, or browned butter.
Make An Easy Fudge Recipe
Fudge seems like a food everyone is relegated to buying from a specialty shop -- but you can make it at home, too. Melt butter, chocolate chips, and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl with the secret ingredient: hot cocoa mix. Once these ingredients are smooth, add marshmallows or marshmallow fluff to the bowl. This ingredient doesn't just give your hot chocolate fudge its seasonal flair, but it also helps the entire mixture set in the pan.
There are numerous variations you can make with this recipe. For example, add a drizzle of chocolate to the bars after you've sliced them, or incorporate whole chocolate pieces into the fudge to give it more texture. You can also press marshmallows onto the top of the fudge before it sets or garnish them with crushed candy canes.
Try A Play On The Whipped Coffee Trend
This viral whipped hot chocolate is putting dalgona coffee to shame. Start by whipping hot chocolate powder and powdered sugar with cold whipping cream until peaks form. Note: This recipe cannot be done with your trusty wire whisk; you'll need an electric one or a milk frother to get the same volume. It's also important not to overwhip the mixture because you could end up with chocolate-flavored butter.
Serve whipped hot chocolate atop a cold glass of plain or chocolate milk. It's a great way to indulge in a nostalgic favorite during the hot summer months or transform a caffeinated beverage craze into something kid-friendly. With a package of hot cocoa mix and a big imagination, anything is possible!
Read the original article on Tasting Table.