Cold Nights & Hot Cocoa and a Lactose-Free Variation

Mr. and Mrs.Grumpy are much happier now that they are tanked up with hot cocoa. I have many memories of sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace on a cold winter night.

Hot Chocolate and Mix and Graham Waters - IMG_2399_1

We had plenty of cold winter nights while growing up in Virginia, even in March. Quite often at night we’d have a mug of hot cocoa to sip on accompanied by a snack of crackers, apple slices and cheese. The hot cocoa came from a powdered mix that my mother kept in a large jar. She even sent me off to college with a jar of the mix so that I could add water and heat to make cocoa in my dorm room. These years pre-date the convenient instant cocoa mixes that are now available in grocery stores.

While browsing through one of the recipe magazines on the rack at the grocery store waiting to check-out, I found a mix that reminded me of the one my mom made. For nostalgia, I thought I’d try it. Over the years I’ve become more lactose-intolerant (the inability do digest milk sugar). I wondered if I could make a lactose-free variation using soy milk powder.

Hot Cocoa Mix

The original recipe is from “Best Recipes-Holiday Gifts from a Jar,” published by Publications International, Ltd., and used here with permission. This little recipe book has mixes for all kinds of dishes from tabbouleh salad to biscottini. The mix is placed in a jar along with a recipe card. The ideas is to give the mix as a holiday gift. I kept mine instead.

The hot cocoa mix when prepared into hot chocolate is creamy and smooth with a nice cocoa flavor. It is one of the best hot chocolate’s I’ve had and surpasses the instant cocoa mixes which are found in stores. It is made with powdered milk which is readily available in grocery stores. Here are the ingredients.

Hot Cocoa Mix Ingredients - IMG_2349

Simply mix the ingredients in a bowl, then store in an airtight container.

Hot Cocoa Mix - 2 - IMG_2392

Scoop out what you need for one mug or make the entire mix for eight servings.

Hot Chocolate - IMG_2396_1

Lactose-Free Hot Cocoa Mix Variation

Making a lactose-free variation had me stumped. I thought it would be easy to substitute powdered soy milk in the hot cocoa recipe for nonfat dry milk. However, I visited many grocery stores and soy milk powder just isn’t available. Finally I found soya powder at a health food store. It is made using a different process from soy flour. When heated, it can be used as soy milk or added dry to recipes in place of nonfat dry milk. Here’s the soya powder on the right.

soya powder-soy milk-powdered milk - IMG_2421

As an alternative, I also found a shelf-stable soy milk carton, shown in the center. It can be stored on a shelf-does not have to be kept in the refrigerator. Convenient for me as don’t use that much soy milk. So I made the mix without any powdered milk or soy milk and added it to the carton of soy milk. While any soy milk tastes different than cow’s milk, this made a very tasty hot cocoa.

Here are the ingredients:

Hot Cocoa - Lactose-Free Mix Ingredients - IMG_2352

Recipe and Lactose-Free Variation

Rich & Creamy Cocoa Mix

  • Servings: 8 (3/4 cup)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3/4 cup powdered nondairy creamer
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 8 peppermint sticks

Instructions and Steps

  1. Combine all ingredients except peppermint sticks in large bowl. Pour into 1-pint jar with tight-fitting lid; pack down lightly before adding peppermint sticks. Evenly place peppermint sticks around inside of jar (or tie to outside of jar with ribbon).

Lactose-Free Variation

Omit nonfat dry milk. Add 1/2 cup soya powder, or optionally, omit soya powder and when preparing cocoa, add cocoa mix to carton of soy milk. Substitute milk-free chocolate chips for the milk chocolate chips.

To Prepare Rich & Creamy Cocoa, Entire Jar:

  • 1 jar Rich & Creamy cocoa Mix
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp coffee-flavored or amaretto flavored liqueur per cup (optional)


  1. Remove peppermint sticks from jar; set aside. Place cocoa mix in medium saucepan. Add boiling water, stir until mix is dissolved and chips are melted. Keep warm over low heat.
  2. Pour into individual coffee mugs. If desired, add 1 Tbsp coffee-flavored liqueur to each cup. Add 1 peppermint stick for each cup; garnish with dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Variation: Crush peppermint sticks and add to cocoa or sprinkle over whipped cream as garnish.

To Prepare Single Serving:

Place 1/3 cup cocoa mix in coffee cup; add 3/4 cup boiling water. Stir with peppermint stick until mix is dissolved and chocolate chips are melted. Garnish with dollop of whipped cream (optional). If using large coffee mugs, double the recipe for the single serving.

From: “Holiday Gifts from a Jar”, Vol 3., No. 52, Dec 24, 2013. Used with permission from Publication International, Ltd. (PIL). Recipe ownership remains with PIL

Enjoy the hot cocoa with an snack of cheese, crackers and apple slices.

Fireside Snack - 4 - IMG_2419

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