Spicy Hot Chocolate Mix

hotchocolateThis makes a great winter gift by itself, or you can wrap it up with a couple of cute mugs. Add some homemade marshmallows for a real treat.

2 1/4 cups cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups semi sweet chocolate (chips or chunks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper (Note: I use 1 teaspoon for a rather spicy brew)


  • If using chocolate chunks, grate into fine pieces. This can be done with a knife or with the grater attachment on your food processor. If using chocolate chips, skip this step.
  • Place all ingredients in food processor and blend. (Note, you can also just mix this by hand.)
  • Divide into three 2-cup portions.

Makes three gifts.

Instructions to include with the gift:
Add 1/4 cup hot chocolate mix to each cup of milk.
Stir, heat, then drink.

Go to www.anhourinthekitchen.com/gifttags to download a pdf gift tag with instructions to include with the gift.

Homemade Maple Granola

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been seeing granola recipes all over the place. One of my favorite food magazines, EatingWell had one in their October issue. Martha Stewart had one in her November issue. My sister and good friends Ellen and Christine have all been making it. Who am I to buck the trend? Especially when it is so darn good.

Granola also makes a nice gift (see a recurring theme here?)…and it’s cheap. What more could you want?

My sister makes granola in her crock-pot slow-cooker. Click here for a recipe.

Ellen has a good recipe on her site, Ellen Cooks.

Eating Well has a tasty recipe and includes a pdf gift tag.

Here’s my version. Note, I’m using coconut oil, but if you don’t want to adhere to 19th-century ingredients, you can use canola oil. Canola oil was not used in food until well into the 20th century (1974 in fact).

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips or flakes (Click here for using a fresh coconut, something I highly recommend and isn’t as difficult as you’d think)
1/2 cup sliced almonds or other nuts
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup dried fruit
1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 275°F.

2. Combine oats, coconut, almonds, brown sugar, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.

3.Heat coconut oil until melted, combine with maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla extract and water in a medium bowl. Pour over the oat mixture; stir until well combined. Spread the mixture into a large roasting pan or large rimmed baking sheet.

4. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir, and bake about 35 minutes more until golden brown and it begins to crisp. It will become more crisp as it cools.

5. Stir in dried fruit. Let cool completely before storing.