A homemade hot cocoa gift basket filled with hot cocoa mix, homemade marshmallows, cookies, candy canes, and mugs makes a fun gift for the holidays!
Last year my siblings and I chose to exchange homemade gifts for Christmas, as a fun twist on our annual tradition. I agonized for weeks over what I was going to make for my sister and her family, and then it dawned on me. What do I home-make the best? Food, of course! And so the idea for this homemade hot cocoa gift basket was born.
I filled a box with all the things you need to have a holiday hot cocoa party— homemade hot cocoa mix, homemade marshmallows, chocolate chip cookies, fancy candy canes, and a few other fun holiday novelties. Then I boxed it all up and mailed it across the country. And they loved it! I mean, who wouldn’t?
This hot cocoa gift basket is the perfect homemade holiday gift for neighbors, coworkers, teachers, family and friends!
How to Make a Homemade Hot Cocoa Basket
You can put whatever you’d like into your gift basket, but here are a few suggestions:
- Homemade hot chocolate mix
- Homemade marshmallows
- Candy canes
- One or two other holiday-themed items like a set of mugs or a spatula (more options below)
For a truly homemade gift, make all of the treats yourself (except the candy canes, unless you’re feeling adventurous). Keep reading for more info and recipes. Please note that this post contains affiliate links.
Start with Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
Of course, you can’t have a hot cocoa gift basket without hot cocoa mix! It’s super easy to DIY at home, and so much better than storebought. It also makes a big batch, perfect for gifting and keeping some for yourself.
My hot chocolate mix is a combination of unsweetened cocoa powder, powdered milk, and powdered sugar. All that’s left to add is hot water when you’re ready to serve. So easy! See the recipe below for flavor options and variations.
Add Homemade Marshmallows
Homemade marshmallows are so much easier to make at home than you think! And once you’ve tasted them you’ll never be able to go back to storebought. These marshmallows are light and pillow-soft, with a hint of vanilla.
Cut them big, small, or even mini. And all you’ll need for packaging is a plastic gift bag or box and a colorful ribbon.
Make a batch of cookies
Homemade cookies are a must for any homemade holiday gift basket! You can of course make any kind of cookies you wish, browse my cookie recipe archives for inspiration.
Chocolate chip cookies are a classic choice and are sure to be well-received. Since I was shipping my cookies, I wanted to send firm, sturdy cookies and I used this as an excuse to adapt Alison Roman’s chocolate chunk shortbread cookies. They’re buttery, sweet and salty, full of dark chocolate chunks, and they’ll hold up beautifully during shipping.
Other sturdy, non-crumbly cookie recipes to try are gingersnaps, biscotti, macaroons, and cookie bars. For packaging, cookies will stay most fresh if stored in airtight plastic containers or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap inside of paper boxes or cookie tins. Make sure to pack with plenty of padding if shipping to prevent cookies from breaking.
Include fun holiday gifts
One of the best ways to make your hot cocoa gift basket more impressive to add a fun holiday novelty item or two. Get creative! You can add whatever you’d like per your budget, what you think the recipient would like, etc. Here are just a few ideas:
- Set of mugs or fun holiday paper cups
- Chocolate, caramel or white chocolate syrup for extra hot cocoa flavor
- Holiday spatula for stirring hot chocolate
- Throw for snuggling on the couch
- Cozy socks
- Felt letterboard with holiday message
Happy gifting! This is a homemade gift basket that anyone would love to receive!
Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
- 3 cups milk powder or instant nonfat dry milk (300 grams)
- 3 cups powdered sugar (330 grams)
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (84 grams)
Optional flavor additions (add one or more):
- 1/2 cup flavored non-dairy creamer (hazelnut, vanilla, etc.)
- 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, chai spice mix, or pumpkin pie spice mix
- 1 teaspoon vanilla powder
To serve hot chocolate:
- 1/3 cup hot cocoa mix (from above)
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients, including any optional flavor additions.
- Store in an airtight container for several months.
- To serve hot chocolate, add mix to a cup and then boiling water. Stir until smooth. And enjoy!
- This recipe make approximately 7 cups of mix. Recipe can be doubled or halved as desired.
- Nutrition information is an estimate.
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar (28 grams)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch (28 grams)
- 1 cup cold water , divided (250 ml)
- 3 packets unflavored gelatin (21 grams)
- 2 cups granulated sugar (400 grams)
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup (155 grams)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
To prepare pan:
- Combine powdered sugar and cornstarch.
- Spray a 9x13 inch pan with non stick spray. Add powdered sugar mixture and tap and rotate pan until it is completely covered.
- Tap out any excess powdered sugar mixture and set aside.
To make marshmallows:
- Place 1/2 cup of the cold water in the bowl of stand mixer. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let sit (gelatin will absorb water and soften, this is called "blooming").
- Attach wire whisk attachment to the mixer.
- Combine remaining 1/2 cup water in a saucepan with granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Once mixture comes to a boil, insert a candy thermometer and do not stir anymore. Use a wet pastry brush to rub and dissolve any granulated sugar from the sides of the pan.
- Cook sugar mixture to 240°F. It will come to 220°F pretty quickly, and then take about 5-8 minutes to increase to 240°F. Keep a close eye, still no stirring.
- As soon as sugar is at 240°F remove from heat and turn stand mixer on low speed. Pour the hot sugar into the bowl of the mixer in a slow steady stream, aiming for the side of the bowl and not on top of the whisk.
- Once all the hot sugar has been added, increase speed to medium high and beat until mixture is white and thick and bowl is no longer hot to the touch. This will take about 5 minutes but will depend on exact speed and power of mixer. Add vanilla during the last few minutes of mixing, once marshmallow starts to thicken.
- How to know if marshmallow is done: Stop mixer, lift whisk and watch how marshmallow mixture falls back into bowl. It should hold its shape for a few moments and then absorb back into the rest of the mixture. (If marshmallow flows quickly off whisk and immediately absorbs back in then you need to beat longer, if marshmallow is stiff and doesn't flow off whisk without scraping then it is over beaten).
- Immediately scrape mixture out of bowl with a spatula into prepared pan. Use spatula to gently spread it into an even layer.
- Let marshmallows dry uncovered for at least 4 hours before slicing.
To cut marshmallows:
- Sprinkle more powdered sugar mixture over marshmallows and lift out of pan. Place on a cutting board and cut with pizza wheel or sharp knife as desired. If marshmallows get sticky while cutting, add more powdered sugar mix.
- Toss cut marshmallows with more powdered sugar mix, making more as needed. Marshmallows should be coated well and not stick together.
- Store marshmallows in an airtight container for several weeks.
- To make mini marshmallows: prepare half sheet pan instead of 9x13 inch pan. Spread marshmallow mixture quickly, all the way to the edges of the pan. Cut into 1/2 inch squares.