Going into the weekend, I wasn’t sure I would be able to get a Dare to Give Handmade post up at all.
Every year (you know, all three of them that I’ve been linking up with Dare to DIY), this is the hardest week for me. I guess maybe it says something about my character that I don’t have any trouble coming up with things to do for MYSELF the other weeks, but I draw a blank when it comes to giving people stuff. New Year’s Resolution: stop being such a selfish jerk. Presents for everyone! Two years ago the kids and I made coasters for people, but last year I’m pretty sure I didn’t post anything. At least not in time. We did end up making a few handmade gifts last year, but only very last minute.
So this year I started thinking ahead early and came up with some really exciting, ambitious plans.
And then it was Thanksgiving and we had family in town, and then it was tech week for Gus’ play and I was driving him to rehearsals every night….
So I made cocoa mix and stuck it in a mason jar instead.
When I did my Christmas home tour, I promised a post about our cocoa station (there’s a DIY project involved; I’m not just going to tell you we put cocoa mix in containers and now we drink it). So then I thought I would combine that post with this one and you’d get a SUPER COCOA-FABULOUS post.
Then I spent all weekend on Shutterfly making photo books, and now, as I’m writing this, it’s Sunday night, and I’m really tired.
So, to sum up this tale of thwarted ambitions, here’s a post about cocoa mix and how you can maybe make some and give it to people for Christmas. There’s a slight twist, though, because this is SUGAR-FREE cocoa mix. (Of course, you can also give regular cocoa mix, this recipe from Martha Stewart is the one we use for that. I like it because it doesn’t call for powdered milk like most do (we always like to use milk instead of water to mix it into anyway, so I’d rather not go buy powdered milk just for the mix)).
Every year in December, we mix up a big batch of cocoa mix, and every year I almost never drink it because I try not to have too much sugar and, especially, not to DRINK too much sugar. So this year I decided to make some sugar free mix so that I could have a cup every now and then myself, on Christmas movie nights and whatnot.
The mix I came up with (I found some recipes online and then tweaked them to fit the ingredients I wanted to use) uses erythritol and stevia as sweeteners. I avoid most sugar substitutes, but I’ve been keeping an eye on the lab rats, and it continues to look like erythritol is safe. It occurs naturally in fruit, doesn’t raise your blood sugar, and it doesn’t generally cause stomach upset the way some sugar alcohols can. But, of course, all things in moderation and do your own research and all that.
Anyway, here’s the recipe, in very easy to scale up or down amounts:
Sugar-free Cocoa Mix
*1 cup Erythritol
*1 cup cocoa
*1 tsp salt
*4-5 drops of liquid stevia per cup
*milk (I use whole milk, but you can make it lower carb/dairy-free/whatever by using almond or coconut milk)
Mix dry ingredients together and store in an airtight container.
Heat 8 ounces of milk, then stir in 2 tablespoons of the cocoa mix until dissolved. Add 4-5 drops of stevia to taste.
Erythritol by itself has a sort of odd cooling effect…like it makes thing taste like they should be minty. I know that doesn’t make much sense. Anyway, that’s why you add the stevia; the two sweeteners act very nicely together (I think Truvia is erythritol and stevia already mixed, so you could also probably just use that). I buy Erythritol in bulk on Amazon (affiliate link), since I also bake with it and have a hard time finding it locally.
I made everyone do a blind taste test of this mix and regular one Sunday morning:
The results? Gus guessed wrong, Milo and Ari guessed correctly, and Dave just said he couldn’t tell which was which. I didn’t do a blind test, since I was the one who mixed them, but I did taste them one after the other, and I’ll say that the sugar-free one tasted slightly bitter to me immediately after tasting the one with real sugar, but it tastes good to me when I’m drinking it without anything to compare it to. Everyone except Ari said they liked the sugar-free fine.
Okay, so now I had my own sugar-free mix, and it occurred to me that it would also make a nice little gift for people on my list who are cutting back on sugar. So I completely strained the limits of my gift-wrapping abilities trying to make it all pretty with that red and white twine from Ikea and some little jingle bells that weren’t being worn by any brass animals. And here you go:
Back later this week with that cocoa station post I keep blathering on about!
I’m linking up with the Dare to DIY party, hosted this week by Maybe Matilda. Go take a look!