Crafting the Ultimate Alton Brown Hot Cocoa Recipe

Are you ready to embark on a journey to the ultimate hot cocoa experience? Imagine a cup of hot cocoa so rich, so decadent, that it feels like a warm hug on a cold day. That’s what Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe promises. In this deep dive, we’re not just replicating his famous recipe; we’re elevating it to new heights. Get ready to indulge in a cocoa experience like no other!

What Makes Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe Exceptionally Rich and Flavorful?

The secret to Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa’s richness is toasted milk powder. This unique step adds a deep, caramel-like flavor. It’s a game-changer for the recipe.

The use of Dutch-process cocoa powder also plays a big role. This cocoa is smoother and richer than regular cocoa. It makes the drink luxurious and deeply chocolatey.

Fine powdered sugar adds to the magic. It ensures the cocoa is silky smooth. No grainy textures here.

For a little extra, a pinch of smoked cayenne pepper is added. It gives a subtle warmth, balancing the rich chocolate.

In the next parts of this article, we’ll explore more about this recipe. We’ll cover everything from its origins to how to make it yourself. Stay tuned for a step-by-step guide to this indulgent treat.

The Original Alton Brown Hot Cocoa Recipe

Alton Brown, a name synonymous with culinary perfection, has crafted a hot cocoa recipe that stands out in its simplicity and depth of flavor. The key lies in the quality of ingredients and the precision of the process. Let’s break down the original recipe to understand its core.


  • Nonfat dry milk powder
  • Powdered sugar
  • Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Cornstarch
  • Fine salt
  • Optional: Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • Hot water or milk


  1. Toasting the Milk Powder: This step is crucial. Toasting the milk powder in the oven until it turns golden brown adds a rich, caramel-like flavor.
  2. Mixing the Dry Ingredients: Combine the toasted milk powder with powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt.
  3. The Final Touch: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a subtle kick. This is optional but recommended for a unique flavor profile.
  4. Combining with Liquid: For each serving, mix a portion of the cocoa mix with hot water or milk to achieve the desired consistency.

How To Make Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe

how to make alton browns hot chocolate

Creating Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa is like crafting a warm, chocolatey embrace. It’s a process that’s both simple and a little bit magical. Let’s walk through the steps to bring this comforting drink to life.

Gathering Your Ingredients

First things first, let’s talk ingredients. You’ll need:

  • Nonfat dry milk powder
  • Powdered sugar
  • Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Cornstarch
  • Fine salt
  • A pinch of ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • And, of course, hot water or milk for serving

Preparing Your Equipment

You won’t need much in terms of equipment:

  • An oven for toasting
  • A baking sheet paired with parchment paper
  • A mixing bowl
  • A whisk
  • And a heavy mug or cup for serving

The Toasting Game-Changer

Now, onto the toasting. Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C). Spread your milk powder on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toast it for about 20 minutes until it turns a light golden color. This step is what sets this recipe apart, giving the cocoa that rich, caramel-like depth.

Mixing It Up

Once your milk powder is toasted and cooled, it’s time to mix. In your bowl, whisk together the milk powder, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. If you’re feeling adventurous, add that pinch of cayenne pepper. It’s optional, but it adds a nice warmth.

Storing or Serving

You can store this cocoa mix in an airtight container for those cold nights ahead. Or, if you’re ready for a cup now, heat up some water or milk.

Crafting Your Cup

For each serving, take about 1/4 cup of your cocoa mix. Put it in your mug. Add a bit of your hot liquid and whisk it into a smooth paste. This helps avoid lumps. Then, slowly add the rest of your liquid, whisking continuously.

The Final Touch

Serve it up hot. Maybe add some whipped cream or marshmallows. A sprinkle of cocoa powder or a cinnamon stick can also be delightful.

A Few Tips

Remember, the quality of your cocoa and milk powder really matters. They’re the heart of your drink. Feel free to adjust the sugar and cocoa to your taste. And try it with milk for an extra creamy texture.

And there you have it, Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa, ready to warm you from the inside out. Enjoy the process and savor every sip!

The Recipe!

Get ready to indulge in a cup of pure comfort with Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa recipe. This isn’t just any hot cocoa; it’s a rich, chocolatey experience with a delightful twist. Perfect for those chilly evenings or when you need a little pick-me-up. Let’s walk through the steps to create this cozy, heartwarming drink. The recipe below has all the details you need!

alton brown hot coco recipe

Ultimate Alton Brown Hot Cocoa

Ryan Yates
Indulge in the rich, chocolatey bliss of our Ultimate Alton Brown Hot Cocoa. Enhanced with toasted milk powder and a hint of smoked cayenne pepper, this recipe elevates the classic to new heights of flavor. Perfect for cozy evenings or as a special treat.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Beverage
Cuisine American
Servings 22 Servings


  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Food Processor (optional)
  • Mixing Bowl
  • whisk
  • Heavy Mug


  • 2 1/2 cups Organic Nonfat Dry Milk Powder
  • 2 cups Fine Powdered Sugar
  • 1 cup Premium Dutch-process Cocoa Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Organic Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan Fine Salt
  • Pinch of Smoked Cayenne Pepper optional
  • Almond Milk or Water for serving


  • Preheat Oven & Toast Milk Powder: Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C). Spread the milk powder on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toast in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown, then let it cool.
  • Mix Dry Ingredients: In a mixing bowl, sift together the toasted milk powder, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt.
  • Add Spicy Twist: Incorporate a pinch of smoked cayenne pepper for an added kick (optional).
  • Prepare the Cocoa: For each serving, heat 3/4 cup of almond milk or water. Mix 1/4 cup of the cocoa mix into a heavy mug, add a bit of the hot liquid to create a paste, then slowly whisk in the rest.


Quality of Ingredients: Using high-quality cocoa and organic ingredients can significantly enhance the flavor.
Adjusting Sweetness: Feel free to adjust the amount of powdered sugar based on your preferred sweetness level.
Storage: Store the remaining cocoa mix in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. It can last indefinitely.
Special Note from Chef Ryan:
“Embracing the essence of Alton Brown’s classic recipe, this Ultimate Hot Cocoa version is all about the subtle tweaks that make a big difference. Toasting the milk powder is a game-changer, adding a depth of flavor that complements the rich cocoa. Remember, the key to a perfect cup lies in the balance of flavors and the quality of your ingredients. Enjoy this comforting, warm beverage with loved ones, and let it become a part of your cherished moments
Keyword Alton Brown’s Signature Cocoa, Cayenne Pepper Infused Cocoa, Creamy Nonfat Milk Cocoa, Dutch-Process Cocoa Beverage, Gourmet Hot Cocoa Mix, Homemade Spiced Hot Chocolate, hot chocolate, hot coco, Rich Chocolatey Drink Recipe, Toasted Milk Powder Hot Cocoa

The Art of Making the Perfect Cup of Alton Brown Hot Cocoa

making the perfect cup of coco

Crafting the perfect cup of Alton Brown Hot Cocoa is more than just following a recipe; it’s about embracing the artistry behind each step. This section will guide you through the nuances of making a cup that not only warms your hands but also delights your taste buds.

Quality Matters in Alton Brown’s Recipe

The foundation of a great cup of hot cocoa lies in the quality of its ingredients. Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe emphasizes the use of premium components:

  • Nonfat Dry Milk Powder: Opt for a high-quality brand. The toasting process will bring out its best flavors.
  • Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder: This is key for a rich, deep chocolate flavor.
  • Fine Powdered Sugar: Ensures a smooth sweetness without any grittiness.
  • Cayenne Pepper: A pinch of this (if you’re using) can add a subtle, intriguing kick.

Temperature Control in Hot Cocoa Making

The temperature of your liquid, whether it’s water or milk, is crucial:

Whisk to Perfection

The secret to a lump-free, creamy cup of Alton Brown Hot Cocoa lies in your whisking technique:

  • Vigorous Whisking: Start by adding a small amount of hot liquid to the cocoa mix. Whisk vigorously to create a smooth paste, then gradually add the rest of the liquid.
  • No Lumps: Ensure there are no lumps for that perfect silky texture.

Customize Your Alton Brown Hot Cocoa

Personalization is key to enjoying Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe:

  • Adjust the Cocoa Mix: Depending on how rich you like your cocoa, adjust the amount of mix you use.
  • Sweetness Level: Feel free to tweak the amount of sugar based on your preference.
  • Milk or Water: Choose between milk for creaminess or water for a lighter cup.
  • Extras: Consider toppings like whipped cream, marshmallows, or a sprinkle of cinnamon for an extra touch of indulgence.

Storing and Sharing Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe

storing and sharing hot coco

Proper storage and sharing of Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe can ensure that this delightful beverage can be enjoyed anytime, maintaining its rich flavor and comforting warmth. Here’s a detailed guide on how to store the cocoa mix and share this wonderful recipe with others.

Storing the Cocoa Mix

1. Choosing the Right Container:

  • Use an airtight container to store the cocoa mix. Glass jars with airtight seals or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids work best.
  • Ensure the container is completely dry before adding the cocoa mix to prevent clumping.

2. Ideal Storage Conditions:

  • Store the container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. A pantry or a kitchen cabinet is ideal.
  • Avoid areas with high humidity to prevent the cocoa mix from becoming damp.

3. Shelf Life:

  • When stored properly, Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa mix can last for several months, retaining its flavor and quality.
  • Check the mix before use if stored for an extended period, ensuring it’s free from moisture and any off smells.

Sharing the Recipe

1. Digital Sharing:

  • For online sharing, consider creating a nicely formatted PDF of the recipe. Include the recipe title, ingredients, instructions, and any personal notes or tips.
  • Share the recipe through email, social media platforms, or recipe-sharing websites. A personal blog or a cooking forum can also be great platforms.

2. Printed Recipe Cards:

  • Print the recipe on decorative cards for a personal touch. This can be a charming way to share the recipe with friends and family.
  • Include the recipe name, detailed instructions, and a personal note or suggestion for a special touch.

3. Hosting a Cocoa-Making Session:

  • Invite friends or family over for a hot cocoa-making session. It’s a fun and interactive way to share the recipe.
  • Provide printed copies of the recipe for guests to take home.

4. Gifting the Cocoa Mix:

  • Prepare the cocoa mix and package it in small, decorative jars as gifts.
  • Attach a printed recipe card to each jar. This can be a thoughtful gift during the holiday season or special occasions.

By storing Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa mix correctly and sharing the recipe thoughtfully, you can spread the joy of this delightful beverage. Whether it’s a cozy night in or a thoughtful gift, this hot cocoa recipe is sure to bring warmth and happiness.

Alternative Ingredients for Hard-to-Find Items in Alton Brown Hot Cocoa Recipe

alternative ingredients for hot coco

Crafting the Alton Brown Hot Cocoa Recipe doesn’t have to be a challenge if you’re missing some ingredients. There are several alternative ingredients you can use without compromising the rich, comforting essence of the original recipe. Let’s explore these substitutes to ensure everyone can enjoy this delightful beverage, regardless of their pantry contents.

Substitutes for Nonfat Dry Milk Powder

The nonfat dry milk powder is essential in Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe for its creamy texture. However, if it’s not available, here are your options:

  • Regular Milk Powder: This can be a direct substitute for nonfat dry milk powder, offering a similar texture and taste.
  • Dairy-Free Alternatives: For a dairy-free version, coconut milk powder is an excellent choice. It adds a slight coconut flavor, which can be a delightful twist.

Alternatives to Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder

Dutch-process cocoa powder is known for its smooth, rich flavor in Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa. If you can’t find it, try:

  • Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: It’s more acidic and lighter in flavor than Dutch-process, but it still makes a delicious hot cocoa.

Replacements for Almond Milk

Almond milk adds a nutty, creamy texture to the hot cocoa. In its absence, consider:

  • Any Plant-Based Milk: Soy, oat, or rice milk can be great alternatives, each adding its unique flavor.
  • Regular Dairy Milk: For those who aren’t lactose intolerant, regular cow’s milk is always a good option for richness.

Substitutes for Smoked Cayenne Pepper

The smoked cayenne pepper in Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe adds a unique warmth. If unavailable, you can use:

  • Regular Cayenne Pepper: This provides the heat, though without the smoky flavor.
  • A Dash of Chili Powder: It offers a different kind of warmth and can add an interesting flavor profile to your cocoa.

By utilizing these alternative ingredients, you can still enjoy a cup of hot cocoa that stays true to the spirit of Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Recipe. Each substitute offers a new dimension to the beverage, making your hot cocoa experience both unique and delightful.


We’ve explored the original Alton Brown Hot Cocoa Recipe and our enhanced version, complete with nutritional information and alternative ingredients. Stay tuned for the second part, where we’ll delve into FAQs and more tips to perfect your hot cocoa game.

Thank You for Reading

We hope you found this article helpful and informative. At Authentic Hospitality, we are committed to providing valuable resources and insights to help you succeed in the restaurant industry, or at home. If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We wish you all the best in your culinary adventures!

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Can I make this recipe dairy-free?

Yes, simply use a dairy-free milk powder or a plant-based milk alternative.

How can I store the cocoa mix?

Store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. It can last indefinitely.

Can I add sweeteners?

Yes, feel free to adjust the sweetness with your preferred sweeteners.

Is it necessary to toast the milk powder?

While not mandatory, toasting enhances the flavor significantly.

Can I make a large batch of this recipe?

Absolutely! Just multiply the ingredients proportionally.

What’s the best way to serve this hot cocoa?

Serve it hot with your choice of toppings like whipped cream or marshmallows.

Can I add flavors like vanilla or cinnamon?

Yes, adding flavors like vanilla extract or cinnamon can add an extra layer of taste.

This article was reviewed and published by Ryan Yates, Culinary Expert with over 15 years of experience in elevated cooking techniques. This process was tested in a working commercial kitchen that Ryan manages as a Professional Chef.

Note: This article was crafted with the primary intent of educating and assisting our readers. We ensure that our content is backed by research and expertise. For more culinary insights, stay tuned to the Authentic Hospitality blog.

We value your feedback! If you found value in this article or have any questions, please subscribe or leave a comment below. Our team, including Ryan Yates, will be more than happy to engage and assist.

Ryan Yates

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