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Hot cocoa DRY mix recipe - best practices

I'm attempting to make 150-175 small jars (probably 6oz) of hot cocoa dry mix as favors to give away to my wedding guests. After doing some research (both on Chowhound and the amazing world wide web), I have a plan of attack but wanted to get your thoughts on a few questions:

1. DISSOLVING: I plan to create maybe 4 different types of hot cocoa mix, with variations that involve different spices (e.g., cayenne, chili powder). However, I've heard various views on whether spices actually dissolve with the addition of hot water/milk. I don't want people to be drinking a sludge of spicy goo on the bottom of their drinks! Any thoughts on whether certain brands or preparations of spices dissolve better than others?

2. VARIATIONS: I plan to use Alton Brown's recipe as my basic recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...). First, does anyone have a better DRY mix recipe they recommend? 2nd, the variations I'm thinking of are below - any thoughts?
** Aztec: chili, cayenne (see concern #1
)** Salted caramel: sea salt, caramel that I let harden before crushing into pieces (will this dissolve OK??)
** Normal: milk chocolate with marshmallows (where to buy mini marshmallows?)
** Other possibilities: Chinese five spice (see concern #1), mint (would use crushed Andes mint chocolates), peanut butter (does Reese's melt?), mocha (use instant coffee - any recs on brands?), Mexican (vanilla, cinnamon - see concern #1 again)

3. TECHNICAL: Do I need more than one 3-kg bag of Valrhona cocoa powder? Online searches show density of cocoa powder to be anywhere from 0.364 g/cm^3 (converts to 278 fl oz) to 0.641g/cm^3 (158 fl oz). If I assume 158 fl oz, I won't have enough, but assuming 278 fl oz I'll have more than enough. Note: I may increase the cocoa content in Alton's recipe as it seems too little to me vs. the other ingredients.

4. Any other thoughts or advice or recipes or product recommendations are greatly appreciated! I'd love to experiment to answer my own questions, but at this point I'm running out of time.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. According to the intrawebs, an 8 oz container of Hershey's cocoa contains approximately 45 tablespoons of cocoa, or nearly 3 cups. That sounds about right to me (my 1 lb containers of cocoa powder would hold around 6 cups of liquid) - so by that measurement, your 3 kilo bag would contain somewhere in the neighborhood of 64 cups of cocoa. The AB recipe makes 5.5 cups, so if you figure you need 150 cups of mix, you'll only need to make 27-28x the recipe amount. Even if you go with way more cocoa than the recipe calls for, I think a 3kg bag of cocoa powder is goign to be just fine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: biondanonima

      I like your math - 1 bag it is! Thanks. Now I guess I'll start putting a list together of all the lovely things I can do with the leftovers!

    2. Jen,
      As I've never done this, I can't comment on the technical aspects. Re. variety--Even if you quality test every single, I would stick to one or two (at the most) varieties...why mess with a classic?

      If you are putting a tag on as a little favor commemoration, I'd put directions (Re. Dissolving) that if possible, guests should mix with hot milk, not hot water. Makes a big difference in taste and in mixing.

      1. I find that cinnamon glops up into a slimmy mess at the bottom of cup. The Andes mint will melt, fun idea!! What about those cherry flavored chips. You could chop those up, better yet, Andes brand makes like 4 seasonal flavors. The mint, cherry, and I can't remember what eles, lol:). Maybe make a vanilla sugar, and try a white hot cocoa. As for mini marshmallows, just get the small ones, and cut them in half or leave whole. Also, try the hot cocoa mix on the hersheys tub, and write the liquid directions and cooking instructions on your favor tag.

        1. Oh ya, also, I really like Tasters Choice instant coffee, and maybe you could dip plastic spoons into caramel, then that shell type ice cream sauce to " seal" the caramel onto the spoons.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mariars

            Shell type ice cream sauce only hardens over something cold.

          2. The only thing I would add is that you need to be sure to try a sample before packaging all of them. Have you tried Alton's recipe or did the cocoa content seem too little based on reading the recipe?

            1 Reply
            1. re: stecworld

              I haven't tried Alton's recipe... it just seemed too little when compared to the other ingredients. I do plan to try at least a sample or two from each batch, although even that makes me nervous. If I'm throwing a teaspoon of cayenne pepper into 45 cups of cocoa mix, how do I ensure that's mixed evenly? Maybe it's my previous life as a chemical engineer that has me over concerned.