When I was a little kid, my first ever introduction to marshmallows was in those packets of instant hot cocoa. Tiny little crunchy dehydrated marshmallow nuggets coated in cocoa powder. I totally loved them. I loved how crispy and vanilla-y they were. I loved how they would melt in the hot chocolate to make a thin foam – cappuccino for kids!

After mastering these killer homemade marshmallows, there’s no way I could waste them on store-bought hot cocoa mix!

I turned to the master of kitchen science, Alton Brown, for this wonderful recipe for homemade hot cocoa mix. It’s so good! And I love that the predominant flavor is chocolate and not sugar. If you’re used to the sweetness of commercial hot cocoa mix, you might want to add more sugar. I actually like that it’s not too sweet.

Malted hot cocoa with a homemade vanilla marshmallow
Malted hot cocoa with a homemade vanilla marshmallow

Since I love dark chocolate, I used half Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder and half regular cocoa powder. I just used half because the Special Dark has a little grey tint to it that’s not the prettiest. Also, I didn’t have any dry milk powder at home, so rather than going out to buy a box, I used malted milk powder that I had bought to make some chocolate chip cookies ages ago. Oh, man! Awesome substitution! I love the warm, toasty flavor. Like a chocolate malt ball in hot cocoa form!

It’s the perfect foil to homemade vanilla marshmallows. As the marshmallow melts in the hot cocoa, it forms an amazing thick foam layer – just like the old instant stuff with marshmallow crispies except a million, billion times better! Even though the hot cocoa mix is not too sweet, I wonder about cutting out the sugar completely next time to make a chocolate “cappuccino” with marshmallow foam. Breakfast approved.

Abrazos! Anah


Malted Hot Cocoa Mix

(adapted from Alton Brown)



2 cups powdered sugar (scant)

1 cup cocoa powder (1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark + 1/2 cup regular cocoa powder)

2 1/2 cups malted milk powder

1 teaspoon salt (fine)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Hot water



Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. Sift through a fine-meshed sieve. Seal in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry.

Fill your mug 1/3 full with the mixture and pour in ~2 Tbsp hot water (just enough to dissolve the cocoa). Stir to combine to create a smooth, thick slurry. Fill the mug the rest of the way with hot water. Stir and enjoy. Top with homemade marshmallows. For a thick rich hot cocoa, replace the hot water with hot almond milk or hot regular milk.