It’s been two months since Lucy Grove-Jones (if you’re not already a fan, you have my permission to go discover her right now—I’ll still be here when you get back) posted the comment that made me realize how many people are drinking cocoa wrong. Now, at the time I said I’d be fixing this in October, so I’m running just about on time by my standards.
Here follows the very simple story of cocoa, made correctly.
Step One: If you’re a WTF Brand Hot Mess™, you know that the best place to keep those simple recipes you make a few times a year is on a sticky note somewhere in your kitchen. I like to keep a few confusing-to-others notes on this cabinet, where they get spattered and worn. Because pulling out an actual recipe card would take precious minutes I don’t have in a chocolate emergency.
Look here—this is the one we’re after today:
Because this is now a food blog*, I’m including the obligatory photo of the ingredients all piled together, even though you know what they look like.
Dump powdered sugar into the bowl. Marvel at the beauty of all that sugar, and the fact that it’s all going into you. Unless you’re planning to share… which, I mean, I guess you could do? I just make another batch for Other People.
If they’re worthy.
Dump your cocoa in on top of the sugar, and take another moment to marvel at how pretty that combo is. Maybe imagine yourself small enough to live in that magical landscape. Me, I’d eat my way out.
Stupid powdered milk ruins everything at this point, but it’s necessary, so start whisking that shit up. This is about the time I realize that I’ve forgotten that there are three more ingredients, not just the cayenne, and run to grab them.
Which is fine, because I’m no longer entranced by mounds of glorious cocoa.
I like to add the cayenne last, but I can’t explain why. Plus, I don’t really have to justify my choices to you; I could have just said, “hey, throw all this shit in a bowl, it’s tasty!” And you’d probably have done it, because your standards are low.
I’m sorry, that was uncalled for. I haven’t had my chocolate. Irony, right?
Anyway, when you’ve added what you feel is the correct amount of cayenne for your needs, mix that all up. You’ll kick up a cloud of powdered sugar and cocoa and it’ll be delicious and if you weren’t craving a mug of chocolate before, you will be now.
Good thing you’re basically done, right?
Makes about this much. Whatever that is. I think the big one is a quart, and the smaller one is… less than that? Whatever. Start the kettle!
The amount of cocoa you put into your mug will depend on the size of your mug and your personal preference. This mug, which was a gift from a friend who clearly knows what’s up, takes two overloaded tablespoons or three merely heaping, depending on my mood. My Eeyore mug, by contrast, takes two heaping tablespoons, max, and my Christmas mugs take less than that. My coffee cups aren’t used for cocoa except by company, because they won’t hold one of these:
Which, as established in my conversation with Lucy, are the only acceptable cocoa marshmallows.
But the real secret to a perfect cup of cocoa is this device:
Which is sold as an egg and milk frother, and is probably terrible at both of those jobs. I don’t know, because I don’t need it for those things—I use it for cocoa. And, occasionally, cider or other beverages. But mostly cocoa. It does this:
Just fill your mug about halfway, enough to dissolve the powder, with hot (not boiling, that was just for the photo) water, and let the frother do its thing. Then add one whacking great marshmallow and fill the rest of the way with water.
Voilà! A thick layer of melty marshmallow goo on top of a perfect cup of hot chocolate. As previously stated, there is literally no other way.
Tch, fine. In the interest of science, I did try it the other way. Plus, I wanted another cup of cocoa anyway. See, Lucy? I tried it your way. Now look at this, and tell me it’s anywhere near as inviting as the other:
Plus? While the mini ones did melt as I was drinking, the goo-layer sort of floated out of the way while I drank. So when I got to the bottom, there they were. No big, this happens often with the giant one too—you just get a giant globby melted marshmallow treat to finish! Nope, not with the minis—they were in a sort of blanket, so they slorped up the side of the mug and got stuck, forcing me into some impressive tongue gymnastics in order to collect the treat I’d already paid for and prepared.
Giant Marshmallows: 12/10 this is the way we were intended to ‘shmallow.
Mini Marshmallows: 2/10 and both of those are cuteness points. My husband watched me tongue my mug and didn’t find it as sexy as I might have hoped, so even that benefit was lost. Mini marshmallows have their place in the kitchen, and I’ll be saving that bag for brownies, Krispy treats, and Who hash. Are there marshmallows in Who hash? Shit, I don’t even remember… but I’d rather add them to that recipe than this one, so there you go.
Some of you will, by now, have already clicked off. You don’t give half a fuck about recipes; you came here for conversations with my husband, and you’re convinced now that there isn’t one today. HA! Oh ye of little faith. You’re obviously new here, and haven’t yet figured out that it takes me a minimum of 37 ½ minutes to get to my point regardless of what that point is or where I started.
I mean, technically today the point was marshmallows and that Lucy Grove-Jones was wrong about which ones go in cocoa (seriously, go check out all the amazing and hilarious things she draws if you’re not already a huge fan, but be sure to bug her about the ‘shmallow thing until the end of time) but I’ve also got a thing about Husband!
I can mock two people at once, you know.
I’m talented that way.
ME: Seriously, this is so good. Are you sure you won’t have any?
HIM: Nope, no cocoa. I’m ruined for cocoa.
ME: So sad.
HIM: Yeah, well, blame my mom.
ME: Oh, I do.
HIM: I mean for this.
HIM: I had way too many cups of cocoa when I was little and came in out of the Maine cold—
ME: Need to be warmed from the inside, yup.
HIM: And it was always boiling water straight from the kettle into the mug and into my mouth.
ME: That’s… that’s not right. You’re not supposed to boil. Or if you do, wait.
HIM: Yeah, I never got that. And she never made it any cooler. So cocoa always burned me.
HIM: It doesn’t even smell good to me anymore.
ME: Okay, but if you could just have one good cup of cocoa, do you think you could get past it and learn to love cocoa again?
HIM: I never loved cocoa. It was always boiling hot, it always hurt me. It was never good. I never liked it.
ME: That may be the saddest thing I’ve heard about your childhood.
HIM: OUR CLOTHES STANK BECAUSE THEY WERE WASHED IN A SWAMP!**
ME: Still… cocoa. (sips)
* Obviously not. I mean, do you have any idea how stressful it was, trying to keep the hideous wallpaper out of frame? Plus, nobody else was allowed to use the kitchen for hours while I made batch after batch of cocoa. Food bloggers, y’all are amazing and I don’t want to live with you. Families of food bloggers, I salute you.
** I need to tell you that story, don’t I? Shit, that’s another long and complicated one… I’ll figure something out, k? Because while I truly am working on a book (not just talking about it, I swear) I also know that some of you are getting sick of hearing “it’s going in the book!” for every teaser.