Do you know the secret to the best hot cocoa?

Photo: Jill Wellington. Source: Pixabay

One of my favoring things about winter is hot chocolate. After a cold day of skiing or snowshoeing or just shoveling out the car, almost nothing is better than cozying up to a fire (or woodstove) while cradling and sipping a warm mug of steaming hot cocoa. Mmmmm. I can almost smell it now.

But do you know the best hot cocoa recipe?

That’s actually a loaded question. Because there are as many hot cocoa recipes as there are people making (and drinking) hot cocoa. Even the name can be a bone of contention. Is it hot cocoa or hot chocolate? A lot has to do with when and where and how you grew up, what’s your cultural heritage, and what your personal preferences might be. But whatever you call it – hot cocoa, hot chocolate, mocha, or something else – there are some critical elements to every winning recipe.

First, no mixes. Pre-made mixes are fine for a quick hot beverage. And they can be a lifesaver (or finger-and-toes saver) when you first come in from a below-zero outing. But mixes just can’t compare to fresh ingredients – chopped up chocolate chips, freshly whipped cream, and spices.

Second, to spike or not to spike? The answer to this question depends on the age of your audience, your goals, your convictions, and your budget. Suffice to say, passions can run strong on both sides of this issue. Can we embrace diversity here?

Finally, there’s the question of spices. How much or how little really *is* a matter of what kind of effect you want to achieve. Sugar and spice and everything nice is how I like my cocoa, but that’s not what everyone’s after. Some love decadent double-chocolate. My Austrian ski coach enjoyed the warm glow that came from a nip of peppermint schnaps. Still others long for a frothy top of freshly whipped cream and marshmallows. The variations can seem endless.

Photo: Jill Wellington. Source: Pixabay

So what’s the secret to the best hot cocoa?

Actually, hot cocoa is a lot like investing. The most important ingredient is you: your needs, hopes, and aspirations. If you need to warm up quickly, then you might not have the patience for slowly warming whole milk while blending dark chocolate chips in the food processor. On the other hand, pre-made mixes aren’t the most romantic concoction. You need to define your goals,.

Second, if you have the time, pre-designed solutions are rarely ideal. Every circumstance is unique, and mass-produced financial products can have all kinds of strange additives and emulsifiers. And let’s face it: the mixes that are mass-produced and mass-delivered by Walmart are cheap and convenient, but most folks who invest need something specific to their situation. Comprehensive planning helps us ask the right questions; sound investment management should give us something more than off-the-shelf answers. But even mixes are better than nothing, and the investing journey has to start somewhere. Having your most of your money earn nothing probably won’t help you reach your long-term goals.

Finally, there are some great resources available today. The internet has made educating ourselves easier than ever. I found twenty wonderful hot cocoa recipes online ranging from Mexican to Mocha to Double White Chocolate. If anyone emails me, I’d be happy to send them along. Thirty years ago, a list like this would have been a monumental task requiring multiple cookbooks and reference guides. Now they’re all there just waiting for us. In the same way, websites like Motley Fool and Investopedia have all kinds of good information that we can access. We just need to know how to get started.

I’ll be taking a couple weeks off for Christmas, so please: enjoy the hot cocoa, enjoy the holidays, and let me know if you’d like these recipes! Stay safe, and let’s hope that 2021 has *fewer* surprises than 2020. I’d like to have a little more time to sip my cocoa slowly and peacefully!

Photo: Coleur. Source: Pixabay