I’m sad to admit that I’m always leery about giving homemade gifts for the holidays. Especially gifts of food. I mean, I know I would love to get something as useful as a jar of homemade spiced cocoa mix with a couple of cinnamon marshmallow dipping sticks, but I feel like the world has become so driven by the need for the next big thing that the appreciation of a gift from the home (and heart) has sadly waned.

So, here’s me. Bringing homemade gift sexy back.

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Everyone loves a mug of cocoa, right? And this cocoa is ah-ma-zingly yummy. Especially when paired with a swizzle stick made from a giant marshmallow dipped in chocolate, sprinkled with coarse sugar, skewered on a cinnamon stick.

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Dunk the marshmallow, take a few bites then drop the cinnamon stick in the cocoa to steep. Zoinkies.

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This is a really low budget, super easy package that will literally warm the heart. The perfect gift for an office white elephant exchange, nanny or daycare provider, or a much loved and appreciated teacher.

All you’ll need to put the package together is an airtight glass jar, a gift bag, some tissue paper and a few cellophane treat bags with twist ties. I’m even providing you a printable sheet of recipe instructions and gift tags (Click here to download/print.) I’m super nice like that.

Spiced Hot Chocolate Mix
(makes 2 cups of dry mix)
1 cup unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder (sifted)
4 ounces mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp espresso powder
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp finely ground sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Add all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

To make two cups of cocoa, combine 1 1/4 cups whole milk, 1 cup half-and-half and 1 tsp vanilla in a medium saucepan and heat until just steaming. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 3 – 4 minutes (don’t boil). Remove from heat and whisk in 1/3 cup spiced hot chocolate mix until smooth and creamy. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream, a shake of cinnamon and/or marshmallows.

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OR, throw together a few of these and really go cocoa-loco…

Cinnamon Chocolate Marshmallow Swizzle Sticks
(makes 6)
6 large marshmallows
6 cinnamon sticks
4 ounces dark chocolate chips
3 – 4 tbsp heavy cream
sanding sugar (to coat)

Insert one cinnamon stick in the bottom of each marshmallow and set aside. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips and heavy cream for 30 seconds then remove and stir to melt completely. Let the chocolate cool just a bit, then dip each marshmallow halfway and twirl to remove the extra chocolate. Sprinkle with a dusting of sanding sugar then stand upright in a glass filled with additional marshmallows to allow the chocolate to set. Chill for an hour or until the chocolate has set.

Spiced Hot Cocoa_14Just in case I lost you in my earlier rambling, click here to download a printable version of these recipes with a complimentary set of gift tags.

Spiced Hot Cocoa_4Spiced Hot Cocoa_5Now, go spread some homemade gift cheer.

Spiced Hot Cocoa_12HO. HO. HO-MFG. SO GOOD.