Instant cocoa is a powdered mix that can be bought or made and is used to add a hot liquid, such as water or milk, to it in order to make a drink such as hot chocolate. Different types of chocolate and cocoa can be used in these types of mixes, and they can be purchased in most areas fairly inexpensively. Such mixes can also be made quite easily, and may be given in some type of jar or decorated container as a gift, especially for holidays during cold months. Instant cocoa can utilize a number of different ingredients and the preparation of such mixes into a beverage can also take many different forms.
Commercially manufactured cocoa mix typically comes in either pre-measured envelopes or in larger tins for a sturdier container. These types of mix usually use cocoa powder, often from milk chocolate, though dark chocolate is also often available, and typically include some type of powdered milk. Hot water or milk can then be added to the powder and the mixture is stirred until fully incorporated and smooth.
Homemade instant cocoa is also quite inexpensive and, with a nice presentation, can make a very thoughtful and unique gift. Cocoa powder is typically the principal ingredient, and some type of powdered milk and sugar are usually added as well. Non-sugar sweeteners and non-dairy powdered creamers can be used to make an instant cocoa mix for people with special dietary concerns, such as diabetics or people with lactose intolerance. Powdered chocolate pudding mix can also be added to such cocoa mixes to give a somewhat smoother, almost velvety texture to the hot chocolate.
In preparing instant cocoa, hot water or milk are traditional for making the hot beverage, but other types of liquids can be used as well. Skim milk is often a preferable addition rather than regular milk, for anyone looking to keep fat content low. Hot coffee is also an excellent addition to instant cocoa, as the resulting drink is similar to chocolate-flavored coffees available at expensive cafés and coffee shops.
Powdered instant coffee can also be added to the mix itself before adding water, to make a similarly flavorful beverage. Some people also use mint sticks or candy canes to stir their hot chocolate, to add a subtle mint flavor to the drink. Melted caramel can also be spooned in to create a deeper and more complex flavor.