After the house is decorated, put some holiday music on and snuggle up to a hot cup of cocoa. Here's Alton Brown's recipe for homemade instant hot cocoa mix. It's delicious, free of additives, and mixes up in a jiffy. Make an extra batch and give them away as Christmas gifts. Simply fill half your mug with the mix, add hot water and stir. MMmmmmmmm. This recipe includes a little heat from a pinch of cayenne pepper. I added more of a dash, which was a little too much for my son Ethan, although he is eagerly drinking it up. Add it conservatively at first.
HOT COCOA MIX RECIPE
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
2 1/2 cups powdered milk (I used low fat)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 pinch cayenne pepper or more to taste
Hot water (add when ready to use)
Seal the unused mix (without the water) in an airtight container. Will keep in the pantry indefinately. For a richer drink, you can also use the mix with warm milk.
To give as a gift, package in decorative tins, or jars with decorative fabric wrapped on the lid with a rubber band. Add a small card with instructions for use, such as "Fill mug half full with mix; add hot water and stir."