Cooking Techniques · The Vintage Kitchen

Sue’s Favorite Cocoa

This post continues a series of lessons from the 1924 book When Sue Began to Cook. The series began with the post When Sue Began to Cook. Now in Lesson 5, the date this Saturday is December 23. What a good time for Sue and her friend Ruth Ann to make a winter vacation treat like Sue’s Favorite Cocoa.

Hot cocoa is good almost any time of the year, especially with marshmallows. However, it becomes especially welcome during the colder months. This hot cocoa recipe from the Bettina’s Best Recipes cookbooks is a family favorite at our house, too. This is an updated recipe from the 1917 cookbook A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband with Bettina’s Best Recipes. It uses cocoa powder instead of a square of chocolate, which makes it much less expensive to make.

Sue’s notes from the cooking lesson

Here’s what Sue had to say in her cooking notebook:

At first Mother said we wouldn’t have a cooking lesson today because it was so close to Christmas, but Ruth Ann and I begged so hard that she finally relented, only she said we must make something easy.

“I know, Mother, let’s try cocoa. The kind with cinnamon in it!” I suggested. “Just think how much it will help if I really know how to make it!”

“Sue’s Favorite Cocoa?” Mother said, because that’s what she always calls it. “Perhaps if you know how to make it, you’ll make it so often that you’ll get tired of it.”

“Oh, I know I won’t!” I told her. “I think cocoa is delicious when it’s made right, but deliver me from a Mother who doesn’t cook it at all β€” just pours boiling water over it!” (That is the way Emma Jane’s mother makes it. I discovered that when our club met there.)

“If my mother would only come home, I wouldn’t care how she cooked!” cried Ruth Ann, bursting into tears.

Of course it is especially hard not to have your mother at home for Christmas, but I could tell from Mother’s face that she hadn’t realized how badly Ruth Ann was feeling. “Would it help any, Ruth Ann, if you stayed over here and hung up your stocking with Robin’s and Sue’s?” Mother asked.

“Oh, Aunt Bettina, of course it would! Won’t you ask Grandmother yourself? She’s sure to let me if you do the asking.”

“Goody! Goody!” I said. “Hurry, Mother. Telephone her first, and then come and teach us how to make the cocoa.”

Ruth Ann’s grandmother said she could stay, and perhaps that was the reason the cocoa turned out so well. It was seasoned with happiness as well as cinnamon, Mother said.

Sue’s Favorite Cocoa

Here’s the recipe for Sue’s Favorite Cocoa, just as it was written in When Sue Began to Cook.

Sue’s Favorite Cocoa

From 1924 When Sue Began to Cook.


  • 4 tbsp cocoa powdered, level measure
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • β…› tsp salt
  • β…› tsp powdered cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups milk
  • ΒΌ tsp vanilla
  • 4 marshmallows


  • We mixed the cocoa, sugar, salt and cinnamon together very carefully with a teaspoon. (If they aren't mixed well, Mother says the cinnamon floats on the top and the cocoa isn't so good.)
  • Then we each put our mixture into a saucepan and added the water. We cooked it slowly, stirring it all the time, until it got to be like a nice thick chocolate syrup. Then Mother had us add the milk slowly. We turned the fire low, and heated the cocoa till it was steamy and hot. (Mother told us not to let it boil.) When it was steaming hot, we added the vamilla and then beat the coca for a minute or two with a Dover egg beater. (Mother said that would keep it from getting scummy on the top. Robin likes the scum, but once he burnt his tongue on it, so I think Mother's way is best.)
  • Note: A Dover egg beater is a hand-operated mixer with two mixing blades. It was generally used to mix eggs, whip cream, and combine liquids. Oxo Good Grips makes a modern version that works relatively well, or you can use a whisk.
  • Mother had me put the four marshmallows in four cups and when we were ready, we poured the cocoa in on top of them. Of course people can use whipped cream instead of marshmallows if they have it, but most families don't, I've noticed. Anyhow marshmallow cocoa is very good.