If you spend any amount of time outdoors in the winter you know that a hot drink is perfect for brightening your mood and providing a little “Kick” to help get you safely and happily to the end of the trail. And of all the hot drinks to choose from, hot chocolate is one of our favorites. It’ll warm you up from the inside out, and the sweetness is a great picker-uper. Also, it’s hard not to have a smile on your face anytime you find yourself sitting on a wintery summit sipping on some cocoa.
Not all hot chocolate is created equal, and today we’re going to share one of our favorite recipes for making the most perfectly, creamy, chocolatey drink!
First things first… the ingredients. Today were going to create a fairly traditional hot chocolate with a peanut butter twist. The things you will need are:
- Hot Chocolate Mix: We like the options from Lake Champlain Chocolates, but feel free to experiment.
- Peanut Butter: Creamy, not chunky. Also, you want PB that’s smooth so that is mixes well. The smoother the better.
- Cinnamon: No tricks here… just plain’ol ground cinnamon.
- Milk: this is to help with the mixing and we’ve found that it helps make for a very rich and creamy drink.
- Hot Water: Again… no tricks.
- Drinking Container: This could be a cup or a thermos depending your planned activity level.
Pro Tip: If using a thermos and planning to drink your hot chocolate later in the day you can “prime” your insulated container by filling it with boiling water for a few minutes before you pour the hot chocolate in. This helps heat up the system, and is a very effective way to extend how long the thermos keeps things warm.
Step 1 – Scoop hot chocolate mix into your cup or mixing container
If using a thermos I will often mix my hot chocolate in another cup while the thermos is “primed” and then transfer it to the thermos at the end. I also like to include more mix than is typically recommended. If they call for 2 scoops… add 3. If they say 3 scoops… do 4. I promise you that this will result is a richer, thicker, and more enjoyable experience. Don’t add too much though… you don’t want a lot of undissolved crud at the bottom of your cup.
Step 2 – Add the peanut butter
Now, this isn’t an exact science, but you don’t want add too much. You want just enough to provide a nice subtle flavor to compliment the chocolate. We would like to avoid things tasting like molten peanut butter.
Step 3 – Add the cinnamon
This is also something you will have to experiment with. Some people will like more… some less. I just give the container a couple of shakes and I’m good to go.
Step 4 – Add Milk
We don’t want to add too much milk. This is just to help with the mixing process. Take what you think is a small amount of milk… and cut it in half. That should be a good starting point. Our goal is to end up with a thick paste. This will help with two things:
- We want to make sure everything is mixed thoroughly so that we can avoid the dreaded “Powder Bomb”! If you’ve ever experience a “Powder Bomb” you know why this is so imperative.
- If the mixture is not thick enough it will be difficult to get the PB to mix in thoroughly. A thick mixture will pull the PB off the spoon and will help it blend in.
Step 5 – Mix into thick paste
No tricks here… just stir.
Step 6 – Add hot water and enjoy!
Pro Tip: Add hot water slowly and in increments, stirring between additions. This will again help with the mixing process and ensure that you end up with a very rich, and creamy drink.
Do you have a favorite backcountry recipe you’d like to share? If you do we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Greg Maino at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your idea and for submission information.