One of my favorite elements from our annual gingerbread house decorating party this year was the concept of "Mixie Sticks," flavors the guests could add to their hot cocoas, in the style of the classic candy Pixie Stix.
I came up with about fifty fun flavor ideas, but eventually pared myself down to just three. I had a bunch of pretty paper straws, and decided it would be easiest for all concerned if I made each straw color a different flavor.
How to Make Mixie Sticks Hot Cocoa Flavor Mix-Ins
- 1/2 cup sugar per flavor
- flavorings of your choice
- paper straws
- hot glue gun
1) Choose your flavors. There are so many fun possibilities out there!
Just in my pantry, I found three really delicious options. King Arthur cinnamon, King Arthur Espresso Powder, and PB2 powdered peanut butter. I was very sad that the peanut butter didn't make the cut, because it is seriously delicious mixed in hot cocoa! But I thought that mint would be a logical choice and go very well with the green straws I'd bought.
Be creative thinking up flavors! Malt powder works gorgeously, for example. And you can use any of the LorAnn Oil flavorings to make practically any flavor you can imagine. Eggnog. Horchata. Raspberry. And mint, of course.
2) Less intensely flavored powders, like the PB2 and malt powder, can be used straight. But when working with intense flavorings, like the King Arthur cinnamon or espresso powder, or the LorAnn oils, the flavor needs to be cut. Initially I tried using powdered sugar, but found that while that made a lovely mix-in, it was impossible to get in the straw! Using regular sugar proved the best choice.
For each flavor, mix 1/2 cup regular sugar with your flavoring, to taste. I liked the flavor of two teaspoons of the King Arthur powders added to the 1/2 cup of sugar. It added a distinct taste of the flavor without being too overwhelming when added to the hot chocolate.
Making flavored sugars with the LorAnn oils was just as simple. Simply add a few drops of the oil flavoring of your choice to 1/2 cup sugar, and mix thoroughly. Now this is important: let it dry completely before putting the flavored sugar in the straws! Otherwise you'll have a heck of a time trying to get it back out.
3) Form your Mixie Sticks from the paper straws.
Fold over one end of the straw two times. You can certainly do this with just your fingers, but I found it handy to use a pair of flat nosed pliers.
Use a glue gun to secure the folded end so you'll be sure not to spill out sugar accidentally.
4) Fill the Mixie Sticks with your (completely dried, remember?) flavored sugars. You can make a tiny funnel by making a tiny parchment cone, but I found it just as easy to hold the straw vertically over the bowl of flavored sugar, and spoon the mixture in directly. Sure, at least half of the sugar spills over the side of the straw and back in the bowl, but enough gets in that the straw fills up very quickly.
5) Leave about 3/4 inch empty at the top of the straw. This will give you plenty of room to fold down the top. Fold it over twice, the same way that you did to seal the bottom of the straw. I triedgluingthe top and not gluing the top, and decided that not gluing was the best option. Those paper straws are pretty tough to tear, and it was much easier for kids simply to unfold the and pour rather than rip. The straws stayed nicely crimped on their own, though I'm glad I chose to glue the bottoms.
Kids and adults alike went nuts for these. One adventurous girl tried the cinnamon in her mulled cider, and pronounced that delicious as well!
If you add Mixie Sticks to your hot cocoa bar this winter, let me know what flavors you choose to make, and what your guests liked best! Cinnamon was the clear winner at our party, though I think the espresso would have been more popular with a more adult crowd.