Friday, April 08, 2011

Cocoa recipe, as requested

brown sugar cocoa mix vs. powdered sugar cocoa mix
I've been sweetening cocoa mix with powdered sugar, but the other day decided to substitute brown sugar. This morning we cross-tested. Three of us preferred cocoa mix made with brown sugar, which tastes bigger, rounder, richer. And sweeter. (Brown sugar weighs more than powdered sugar.) Owen was the lone holdout for powdered sugar.

Majority rules. Brown sugar it is. Though I'll probably eventually go back to powdered as he is the only regular drinker of cocoa in our house.


1 1/2  cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt

1. Sift the ingredients together into a bowl. It's hard to sift brown sugar, but can and should be done to properly blend. Some kosher salt will be left in the sifter at the end of the sifting. Toss it in with the mix and whisk to blend. Store in a jar in the cupboard. Makes 3 cups.

To make cocoa, use 2 tablespoons cocoa mix and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla per cup of hot milk.


  1. TIpsy,

    In your book, in the Ingredients section or somewhere prominent, *please* include a note about the brand of kosher salt you use because it makes a huge difference. I found that out the hard way. Most cookbook authors (and you, I recollect) use Diamond, but all I can get around here is Morton kosher (and some of your book's readers will use neither). If I used 2 teaspoons of Morton kosher in your cocoa mix it would be undrinkable (Morton crystals are a lot smaller by volume, so more salt is packed into a teaspoon). 2 teaspoons of Diamond kosher = 1 1/2 teaspoon Morton kosher = 1 teaspoon table/fine sea salt.

    And while I'm being a bossypants, I hope your publisher includes weight measures in addition to volume measures, which are horribly imprecise and messier and more hassle than being able to put one bowl on a scale and adding all the ingredients sans numerous imprecise measuring cups and myriad bowls. Or if they won't list it with every recipe, at least, like the salt, say in a note somewhere how much a cup of the flour you use weighs, because, especially at larger volumes, it can make the difference between tasty baked goods, and dry inedible baked goods. People measure flour differently: dip-and-sweep versus scoop-and-sweep. King Arthur says a cup of AP flour is 4.25 ounces; Cook's Illustrated says it's 5 ounces. If you have a recipe calling for, say, four cups of flour, it could result in nearly a cup extra, or a cup short, should you measure it the opposite way of how the author does. Which obviously would spell disaster.

    The lack of weight measures is the one thing I can't stand about the otherwise wonderful "Good to the Grain" and their inclusion is one of the things I love about Joanne Chang's "Flour."

    I admit, this issue is my pet peeve with cookbooks, especially baking books, and I'm crazily obsessive about it. But it does matter.

  2. Steven --
    I agree with you and will bring this up, but I'm not sure it's going to happen, especially bc I will have to do all the conversions myself and at this point it could conceivably kill me. Unless there is a standard volume to weight chart I could refer to -- but like you say, nothing about volume is standard so how could there be? Maybe there is. But then would I have to retest every recipe using weight? That would definitely kill me.

    I remember when I tried to convert Moro bread from weight to volume and came up with radically different cup measures each time. I still make that w. weights and much prefer. Michael Ruhlman is absolutely right.

    I will make the point re: brands and kosher salt. I do specify kosher salt in every recipe, thanks to vigilant copy editor.

  3. I found this:

    Interesting. When I get home I'm going to see how accurate it is.

  4. Yeah, that kid of chart is useful. I use the ones included in the King Arthur books all the time to weigh stuff. The funny thing about that particular chart is: notice the flour. This one says a cup of AP is 4 ounces! I've never heard that one before -- unless it was maybe sifted. Every such conversion chart out there lists a different weight for flour because there is no single, absolute standard, which is why it's helpful for each author to specify what *her* cup of flour weighs.

    But I think you'll be OK, sans weights -- it's not worth a breakdown, and yours is not a total baking book anyway.

    If you could just add a sentence about the method you use to measure flour (spoon and sweep or dip and sweep) and whether you fluff it first or not (this is beginning to sound obscene) or whatever your routine is, that would help. You must have a regular method, yes? Offering that information would be helpful. See "The Baker's Dozen Cookbook," which includes in each of their chapter intros the particular weight (it varies from chapter to chapter) those authors used for a cup of flour.

    Oh, and as a copy editor myself, I salute yours for his or her vigilance about the salt!

  5. I've never thought to use brown sugar for my hot cocoa! Although admittedly, I most often use the pre-made stuff for convenience sake. If you haven't yet, you should try to make some European-style drinking chocolate (like the one pictured in your other post). I love having it in small doses on cold days!

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