Why Is Instant Hot Chocolate So Lumpy?


Instant hot chocolate never seems to want
to mix. Stir as much as you like—you’ll never
get rid of those lumps of mix. It’s nearly impossible, and all because
of starch. Instant hot chocolate mix often contains
several starchy ingredients, like cocoa powder, milk powder,
and corn starch. When those come into contact with
water or milk in your mug, the outside edges of each chunk expand and seal off the inside, trapping dry pockets of powder
with no way for liquid to reach them. To break up these blobs, you’d need to trap
them between the mug and your spoon— a tricky task when you’re
stirring to avoid more lumps. You can avoid this problem by first pouring
just a little heated milk into your instant mix. This creates a paste where you can apply enough
pressure to pop the starch bubbles, expose them to liquid,
and prevent any clusters of mix. You can use this same technique to make
homemade hot chocolate. And because this recipe doesn’t contain
as many starches as instant mix, getting rid of lumps happens early in the process. Combine cocoa powder, sugar,
and salt into a saucepan. Add a few tablespoons of whole milk, turn
the heat on, and stir using a whisk. The metal wires will help
break up those tiny clumps, and the fat in the milk will
help emulsify the whole thing. Keep stirring until there are no more lumps,
then add the rest of the milk. Add in semi-sweet chocolate chips (or small
pieces of a chocolate candy bar) and bring to a simmer. Stir until it’s all melted. Do NOT bring your mixture to a full-on boil. That will change the protein structure,
and the flavor, of the milk. For just a little bit more richness,
add a touch of vanilla extract. Whip up some whipped for the top—you can
get the recipe on PopSci.com. Enjoy! Ahhh.

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