Homemade Hot Cocoa Gift Basket | The Rising Spoon

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Homemade Hot Cocoa Gift Basket

Learn how to put together a cozy & festive DIY hot cocoa gift basket in minutes with a homemade hot cocoa mix (easy recipe included), marshmallows, bar chocolate, and a few other fun goodies (like hot chocolate bombs). This makes a simple, yet thoughtful gift for all ages & any occasion. 

Homemade Hot Cocoa Gift Basket (Fun & Easy Idea)

Time for another themed gift basket! I'm kind of addicted to making these right now, so I hope you're not tired of them yet. They're super fun to put together (especially with the little themed knick-knacks) and it gives me joy seeing people's reaction to receiving them. 

Last December I shared a self-care gift basket (I had no idea it would be so timely for 2020), a few months ago I posted a wine & cheese gift basket (mmmm), and right now I'm working on a yummy breakfast-themed one (coming soon).

Today's gift basket is hot cocoa & hot chocolate themed because that's one thing everyone loves! Well, almost everyone. There are some weirdos who dislike chocolate. Sucks for them, right? ;)

If that's the case, coffee is probably a safe bet. Or liquor. Or spicy, savory things. Do some online sleuthing on your person and find out what they like. If you need tips on that, read my self-care gift basket post (link above). Or pick something random from my homemade food gifts round-up

Since we're close to Christmas, this gift basket makes an awesome last-minute holiday gift, but it's also great for a random "thinking of you" care package (these should be far more common) or a thank you gift to show your appreciation for someone who's helped you recently. 

Housewarming gifts, bridal showers, and baby showers are also excuses to make one. I mean, do we even need a reason? Not when chocolate is involved.

What to Put in a Hot Cocoa Gift Basket

There are loads of options for food & non-food items to include in a hot cocoa gift basket (I share lots of ideas further in the post). However, there are three main things you should always include:

  • hot cocoa mix (see homemade recipe below
  • marshmallows (mini or regular - if you have a stand mixer & the time to make the homemade marshmallows, that's a fun project!)
  • good-quality bar chocolate (for topping the hot cocoa or stirring into the drink so it's richer)

If you're gifting this to someone who lives nearby, you can also include perishable items like whipped cream, refrigerated milk (dairy or dairy-free), or hot chocolate bombs (pictured below). 

My favorite bar chocolates to use right now are from Divine and Bar & Cocoa, and for chips, it's Ghiradelli (although I have a bag of Guittard I plan to try soon). 

If you're gifting this to a chocolate lover, I HIGHLY recommend ordering some chocolate through Bar & Cocoa. The Castronovo Dark Milk Chocolate (pictured in today's basket) is my favorite. You can read more about them in my double chocolate banana muffins post. 

Now back to the cocoa mix. If you're in a rush or don't want to buy the ingredients to make homemade hot cocoa then grab some of the pre-made mixes from the store instead. Look for packets, canisters, or jars of hot cocoa that are made with high-quality ingredients like cocoa powder, sugar, powdered milk (optional), and vanilla. 

Swiss Miss is one I would NOT recommend because it gives me (and several other people I know) an upset stomach after drinking it (it's loaded with additives & emulsifiers). I prefer the individual packets of Ghiradehlli hot cocoa that are meant to mix into hot milk.

But, really...it's so simple to make your own mix by blending together a few pantry ingredients. 

How to Make Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Ingredients For Homemade Dry Hot Cocoa Mix

Here's all you need for a basic hot cocoa mix that you can stir together in minutes:

  • coconut sugar or brown sugar (this adds a lovely light molasses flavor that gives it something extra)
  • Dutch cocoa powder or cacao powder (use the good stuff)
  • cinnamon powder (optional - I use Ceylon cinnamon, which has a softer flavor)
  • sea salt (this accentuates some of the sweetness & makes everything pop)

You might have noticed the dry mix contains no powdered milk. I left it out on purpose. Why? It's not a common pantry ingredient (unless you're an avid baker or prepper) so I figured I'd save y'all some hassle and moolah by creating a version without it. 

That said, this hot cocoa mix tastes best when combined with some type of milk for added creaminess. I typically use unsweetened vanilla almond milk but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. 

Only have water? Here's a tip to make it taste better: finely chop several squares of bar chocolate and melt that into your hot cocoa. The cocoa butter from the chocolate makes it taste richer & creamier (no milk necessary). Or, check out my hot chocolate recipe to learn how to make it from scratch without cocoa powder. 

I plan to test out another recipe with powdered coconut milk and grated bar chocolate (or chips) included (meant for stirring into hot water), so look for that here in the future. 

Supplies For Hot Cocoa (or Hot Chocolate) Gift Basket

Hot Cocoa Gift Basket Ideas

Aside from the core ingredients (hot cocoa, marshmallows & bar chocolate), there are plenty of other fun things you can add to round out your gift basket in a fun & functional way. 

Here are some ideas for inspiration (including what I used today - bonus points if you can find hot cocoa or chocolate related items):

  • flavored simple syrup (like peppermint, vanilla, or caramel)
  • hot chocolate bombs (these are SO frigging good - scroll down to see more pics of what I used & get extra info)
  • candy canes (for stirring the cocoa or crushing & topping the drink)
  • cookies (homemade or storebought - my no-bake chocolate covered shortbread cookies would make a good addition)
  • muffins or mini quick bread loaves (my pumpkin apple muffins, blueberry sour cream muffins, or double chocolate banana muffins would be fabulous) 
  • ceramic mugs (10 oz is a good size since most folks drink smaller portions of cocoa versus coffee)
  • festive tea towels (the white & red hot cocoa towels pictured today are from Target)
  • coasters (I got the red felt snowflake coasters from the dollar section at Target - rustic wooden ones would be super cute)
  • small whisk or spatula (for stirring the cocoa in a saucepan)
  • wooden stirring spoons (for mixing directly in a cup - I got mine from Hobby Lobby)
  • chocolate covered spoons (you can make a DIY version or places like Williams Sonoma sell them)
  • hot cocoa recipe sign (I found this adorable hand-drawn print from Lily & Val at Fire Lake Soapery when I was in Kansas several months ago)
  • hot pad (a.k.a. oven mitt or potholder) - my older sister gave me this cute crocheted one from Louisburg Market Street - if you live near Kansas City you have to check that place out!!)
  • a cozy scarf or fuzzy socks (for wearing while you sip on cocoa, of course)
  • a carton of shelf-stable nut milk (if your recipient doesn't have milk on hand, this saves them a trip - I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk this time)
  • whipped cream (only if you're delivering in-person & they live semi-close - grab a can from the store or make a batch of homemade whipped cream with an 8-oz carton of heavy whipping cream, sugar & vanilla extract and portion it into a mason jar)
  • mini bottles of booze (for making adult hot cocoa - ex: Baileys, Kahlua, Disaronno, Frangelico, bourbon, whiskey, brandy, vanilla vodka, etc.)
  • adaptogen mushroom powder packets (these are tasteless & you can stir them into hot cocoa for added benefits - I like the Lion's Mane, Chaga & Reishi ones from Four Sigmatic)
  • instant coffee (for stirring into the cocoa to turn it into a mocha - you can get a small jar or individual packets


Hot Chocolate Bombs For a Hot Cocoa Gift Basket

How to Make Your Gift Basket Extra Special: Include Hot Chocolate Bombs

Hot chocolate bombs are wildly popular this year, so I had to include them in this gift basket. I was also curious whether they'd live up to the hype. So, I ordered an 8-pack from Indulgent Treats (pictured above), which I customized with different chocolate coatings. If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, definitely reach out to her on Instagram. You'll be supporting a small, woman & veteran-owned business. :)

So...how were the bombs? I made them over Thanksgiving and they were ah-mazing!!! The insides were Ghiradelli hot cocoa mix with some crushed candy cane and the outsides were also either dark, white, or milk chocolate (all Ghiradelli except the last one) sprinkled with more peppermint candy cane. I poured boiling hot water over them and they turned out so creamy and rich (but not too rich). They were perfect!

NOTE: If you'd rather go the DIY route and can find the round molds needed, here's a tutorial from my blogging friend Carissa: How to Make DIY Hot Cocoa Bombs with Marshmallows.

TIP: These have a thin chocolate coating, so it's best to keep them in the fridge until closer to when you'll serve them. So, if you're putting them in a gift basket, add them right before you leave for your destination. It's also a good idea to wrap them in plastic or put them in a plastic bag of some sort so you don't get fingerprints on them (in case you have warm hands). 

Homemade Hot Cocoa Gift Basket (Perfect for Chocolate Lovers)

How to Make a Hot Cocoa Gift Basket

Here's everything I included in my basket in case you want to replicate it, otherwise use this as a template for your own version: 

Supplies

  • gift basket (examples: wicker basket, decorated cardboard box, large bowl, metal tin, or wooden box)
  • tea towels and/or paper filling (for lining the box, adding height & protecting any fragile items like glass)
  • mini whisk
  • wooden stirring spoons
  • ceramic mug(s)
  • coasters
  • a hot pad or oven mitt
  • decorated sign or print
  • shelf-stable nut milk (you can do refrigerated milk or whipped cream if you're taking it directly to the person)
  • homemade (or storebought) hot cocoa mix
  • hot chocolate bombs (these need to be kept refrigerated until you're ready to drop off the gift)
  • bar chocolate (good-quality, plain or flavored)
  • candy canes
  • mini marshmallows
  • single-serve adaptogen mushroom hot cocoa packets (like Four Sigmatic)


Instructions: 

  1. First, make any homemade elements like your hot cocoa mix (recipe below), marshmallows, simple syrups, or cookies then package them into cute containers tied with a bit of twine. The only homemade element in my basket this time around was the cocoa mix, so it's totally up to you how much time you want to invest. 
  2. Find a sturdy gift basket that's big enough to fit your hot cocoa, marshmallows, bar chocolate, mugs & other goodies inside. You can choose a taller & deeper basket, a circular one (some kind of mixing bowl would work), or a shallow and wide one. Keep in mind that the larger your basket, the more space you'll have to fill to make it look abundant (towels & filler paper helps with this).
  3. Now you're ready to assemble. Line the bottom of the basket with tea towels, kitchen towels, or hot pads (or your preferred filler - I like to add functional things if possible). Place your tallest items at the back of the basket (in my case the hot cocoa sign and shelf-stable nut milk). Fold up 1-2 more towels and place them in front of the tall items to create height.
  4. Arrange your smaller items (mugs, cocoa mix, marshmallows, coasters, etc.) on the folded up towels so each one is visible and nothing is completely hidden at the bottom.
  5. Once everything is positioned how you want it & secure (nothing falls out of the basket when you pick it up), you're ready to go. TIP: If you're making this ahead of time, store the hot chocolate bombs and/or whipped cream (if using) in your refrigerator and only add them to the basket right before you leave so they stay cool.
  6. (Optional): Tie a hand-written tag to the basket's handle and cover the top with cellphone or wrapping paper (to keep it a surprise). If you cover it, make sure to let the recipient know there is something perishable inside (hot chocolate bombs & whipped cream) in case they delay opening it.

hot cocoa gift basket, homemade hot cocoa mix, hot chocolate, recipe, ideas, easy, best
drinks
American
Yield: 4 servings (1 1/8 cups)
Author: Elaina Newton - The Rising Spoon
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Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Prep time: 5 MinTotal time: 5 Min
An easy recipe for a hot cocoa mix that you can stir together in minutes with simple ingredients like cocoa powder, sweetener, cinnamon & salt. Package it into jars for an inexpensive homemade gift or keep it in your pantry for a last-minute chocolate craving. (gluten-free, grain-free & dairy-free)

Ingredients

For The Hot Cocoa Mix:
For Serving The Hot Cocoa:
  • 1/4 cup of hot cocoa mix (recipe above)
  • 1 cup of milk (dairy or dairy-free - I typically use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • (optional) mini marshmallows or whipped cream, for topping

Instructions

For The Hot Cocoa Mix:
  1. Sift the cocoa powder through a fine-mesh sieve to remove clumps.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir well to incorporate and transfer to an airtight container.
For Serving The Hot Cocoa:
  1. Add 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of mix to a saucepan set on medium heat. Slowly stir in the milk, whisking or stirring constantly, until there are no more clumps and the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the mixture is steaming and as hot as you like. Taste the mixture and if necessary, add a bit more sweetener (this is a good time to add a splash of vanilla extract if you like it).
  3. Pour the hot cocoa into a mug, top with marshmallows or whipped cream, and drink immediately.

Notes:

SWEETNESS: This cocoa mix is less sweet than most (how I prefer it), so if you'd like it to taste closer to a classic packaged cocoa mix which usually has sugar as the main ingredient, add another 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sweetener.

MILK VS WATER: This mix tastes best mixed into milk (dairy or dairy-free) because it contains no powdered milk. If you'd like to use water instead, I recommend stirring in a few tablespoons of chopped bar chocolate or chocolate chips to add some creaminess to the cocoa.

DOUBLING: This recipe can be doubled, tripled, or even halved to portion into different sized containers for gifts. TIP: If your vessel has extra space at the top, add some mini marshmallows on top of the mix for a fun look.

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Learn how to put together a cozy & festive DIY hot cocoa gift basket in minutes with a homemade hot cocoa mix (easy recipe included), marshmallows, bar chocolate, and a few other fun goodies (like hot chocolate bombs). This makes a simple, yet thoughtful gift for all ages & any occasion.

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MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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