The 21st Century Herbalist

DIY Gift Ideas: Mayan Hot Chocolate

This week I bring you an easy, DIY gift idea that puts a new spin on an old classic.  I’ve always loved getting jars of hot chocolate mix filled with my friend’s favorite and somewhat coveted cocoa recipe.  This year you can be the giver of such a lovely gift with this easy to make, spicy hot chocolate recipe.

As chocolatiers have begun to expand flavor combinations we’ve been getting more and more unique flavors like dark chocolate with sea salt or caramelized honey and now with spicy, cayenne pepper.  These spicy versions are often attributed to the Mayans who introduced “drinking chocolate” to the Spanish thousands of years ago. It was a thick drink that was more spicy than sweet, it was often very bitter because it was unsweetened and it was usually served cold.  Today’s versions of “drinking chocolate” are often served warm and are almost always sweetened, even when a little spice is added.  You can make your own version of the original drinking chocolate treat using the mix below.

You’ll Need:

  • 3 c. non-fat powdered milk*
  • 1 ½ c. cocoa powder
  • 1 ¾ c. confectioners sugar
  • ¼ c. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper or crushed chili flakes
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Put all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix thoroughly using a whisk or fork.  Pour into unique jars and embellish with ribbon, string or bows.  Be sure to include a tag with the mixing instructions and a list of the ingredients so your friends know this isn’t just any ol’ hot chocolate!

To Mix a Cup of Hot Chocolate:

Add 1/3 c. hot chocolate mix in your favorite mug and slowly add 1 c. of hot water while stirring to avoid lumps.  This mix already contains milk, so you can mix with straight water but if you want to try an even more unquie flavor combination, mix this with coconut milk instead of the water.

*If you’re preparing this mix for your vegan friends, leave the powdered milk out of the mix and add another 1/4 c. cocoa powder so they still get a creamy, chocolatey cup of cocoa whether they use water to mix it or any vegetable based milk.

Mixing up a large batch of this cocoa is perfect for the girl on a budget because all of the ingredients are cheap, including regular mason jars…they’re cheaper than you might expect!  This is one of those gifts that is perfect for close friends and family but also for co-workers, teachers or the mail carrier!  You can also keep a jar of this on-hand for those surprise gifts that you might receive this holiday season.  Just stash one in your drawer at work or in the closet at home and if you don’t need it, then you get to drink it! Yeah!

I’m curious to know more about your hot chocolate adventures, have you ever had a spicy hot chocolate before?  Let me know in the comments!  And just in case you need it…click here for some gratuitous photos of hot chocolate!