Do you have a favorite hot chocolate recipe or style of hot cocoa?
It was actually chilly enough here in Phoenix this morning for me to contemplate hot chocolate during my morning walk with Francie.
Days cold enough to justify drinking hot chocolate are few and far between in this part of the country.
Since it’s February 1st and many parts of the US are experiencing their coldest, snowiest winter in decades, it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of the situation and have me a cup.
It’s one of the most fun and decadent ways to get your antioxidants.
For me, hot chocolate has always been a favorite antidote to the harsh realities of winter. It forever will be associated with memories of coming in from the cold to discover a pot heating on the stove.
Mom always made it using the recipe from the side of the Hershey’s cocoa container, which technically makes it hot cocoa and not hot chocolate, I guess.
What’s the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate?
Hot cocoa is made with unsweetened cocoa powder and hot chocolate with chopped or shaved chocolate bars. Both are delicious.
Once you make it at home you won’t want to go back to those packets of hot cocoa mix anymore.
Hot chocolate barely needs a recipe. It’s just a combination of hot milk and/or water, chocolate and/or sugar.
But the ratios and variations are endless! Do you use skimmed milk or whole or a nondairy alternative? My last few cups have been made with coconut milk.
What kind of chocolate – cocoa powder, sweetened chocolate or unsweetened or white?
Do you enjoy it plain, spice it up or stir it with a peppermint stick?
Is whipped cream optional or mandatory?
Do you prefer homemade hot chocolate that is not so sweet or the sweeter the better?
Sometimes the simplest recipes can take a little work to get them just the way you like them. The cool thing about homemade hot chocolate, is that by selecting the ingredients that meet your requirements, you can have it just the way you like it!
Just be sure to use the highest quality chocolate you can.
Did you know cocoa drinking actually originated with the Aztecs who shared the process for making it with Cortez, who then brought it back to Spain?
Back then cocoa was an unsweetened beverage.
Eventually the Italians added sugar and it’s popularity spread widely. Something else for which to thank the Italians!
Hot Cocoa Recipe
Makes 5 servings
This is the one I grew up on. These days, I make it with a little more cocoa and less sugar. Adjust the proportions to suit your tastes.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Miniature marshmallows or sweetened whipped cream (optional)
Stir together sugar, cocoa, salt and water in medium saucepan Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir for 2 minutes. Add milk, stirring constantly, heating to desire temperature. (Don’t let it come to a boil.)
Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Whisk until foamy. Serve topped with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired.Hot Chocolate Variations: Add any of the following when you add the vanilla…
Spiced Cocoa: 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Serve with cinnamon stick, if desired.
Mint Cocoa: 1/2 teaspoon mint extract OR 3 tablespoons crushed hard peppermint candy OR 2 to 3 tablespoons white creme de menthe. Serve with peppermint candy stick, if desired.
Orange Cocoa: 1/2 teaspoon orange extract OR 2 to 3 tablespoons orange liqueur.
Mocha Cocoa: 2 to 2-1/2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee.
Maple Cocoa: 1/2 teaspoon maple extract.
Single Serving: Combine 1 heaping teaspoon HERSHEY’S Cocoa, 2 heaping teaspoons sugar and dash salt in small saucepan Add 2 teaspoons cold milk; stir until smooth. Add 1 cup milk and stir until well combined. Heat over medium until desired temperature is reached.
Rich & Creamy Hot Chocolate Recipe
Makes 4 to 5 servings
2 cups half & half, whole milk or nondairy milk of your choice
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Heat the milk in a saucepan on medium heat to just below the simmering point. Remove pan from the heat and add both chocolates. When the chocolates are melted, add the sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon (if using) and whisk vigorously. Reheat gently and serve immediately.
More hot chocolate recipes from around the web…
Rachel Ray’s Mexican Hot Chocolate – spiced with cinnamon and chile powder
Mayan Hot Chocolate – the healthiest recipe I’ve ever seen comes from Rancho La Puerta Spa where they’ve added butternut squash puree
Parisian Hot Chocolate – milk, dark chocolate and brown sugar give it a French twist. From David Lebovitz
White Hot Chocolate – for those who prefer white chocolate from Martha Stewart
Hazelnut Hot Chocolate – for those who love nutella from Big City Little Kitchen
Tuscan Hot Chocolate – an Italian version from Divina Cucina
Healthy Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix – a great alternative to packaged hot chocolate mix from Whole Foods
Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate – A healthy vegan alternative from Elana’s Pantry
Spiced Hot Dark Chocolate – Another healthy alternative with Ayurvedic spices from Whole Living
Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix – A highly rated mix from Alton Brown and The Food Network