We expect more snow this weekend. What could be nicer than a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day? I’ve been working on my own hot chocolate recipe for a while and it’s finally time to share.
This hot chocolate recipe is made with healthy ingredients and tastes more mature than the hot chocolate packets I loved as a kid. It’s rich and complex, but not in order to decadent that I can’t finish the mug. Whether you’re warming up on the couch or throwing a hot chocolate bar for your friends (check out the variations on offer below) I think you will love it.
My favorite chocolate is a mixture of “hot cocoa” (made with cocoa powder, which gives an easier result as the rich cocoa butter has been removed from the cocoa beans) and “hot chocolate” (Which is richer since it is made from chocolate bars that contain cocoa, sugar, and rich cocoa butter.)
The combination of the two results in a really delicious hot chocolate with a deep chocolate flavor. You can control the intensity of the chocolate taste through the choice of cocoa powder and most importantly through the choice of chocolate. I love dark chocolate so I used it.
Hot chocolate ingredients
Here is everything you need to make a good mug of hot chocolate:
Milk of choice: You can use traditional cow milk (whole milk) or plant-based milk (cashew milk, etc.). This won’t come as a surprise, but thicker, creamier milk will produce thicker, creamier hot chocolate. For more information on milk options, see the recipe.
Cocoa powder: This is the basis of your chocolate flavor. Use a good one! I used Trader Joes, but you can get fancier if you want (I love Lake Champlain). Cocoa powder processed in the Netherlands gives a smoother, less acidic result, but so does regular cocoa powder.
Maple syrup: I like to sweeten my hot chocolate with real maple syrup instead of sugar. Since it is already in liquid form, it is wiped in directly. It also adds a very subtle layer of extra flavor. While chocolate bars or french fries regularly contain sugar (more or less depending on your chocolate strength), I like to use a natural sweetener to make up the difference.
Chopped chocolate or chocolate chips: This doubles the chocolate flavor and makes the drink creamier thanks to the cocoa butter content. Depending on the intensity you want, choose milk chocolate or dark chocolate.
I love dark chocolate, so I used Theos 70% dark chocolate (bought from Whole Foods). You can also use chocolate chips; I recommend using a quality brand for best results (Ghirardelli is better than Nestle, for example).
Vanilla extract: Vanilla gives the taste more depth.
Hot to make hot chocolate
It’s easy! Here’s the gist:
- In a saucepan, stir the maple syrup and cocoa powder together until they combine.
- Add the milk and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Don’t let it boil or you could scald the milk.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) and vanilla extract.
Variations of hot chocolate
Enjoy a mug of classic hot chocolate with whipped cream or a marshmallow, or try one of these fun variations:
- Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate: Stir in 1 tablespoon of peanut butter per cup. (Almond butter works too, but I didn’t love it.)
- Mexican hot chocolate: Stir a pinch of ground cinnamon into your mug. Cinnamon sticks optional.
- Hot peppermint chocolate: Put a drop (really just a drop) of peppermint flavor (affiliate link) in your mug.
- Spike it: A splash of bourbon or spiced rum would be nice.
- Or top with a scoop of ice cream: For extra creaminess and flavor, try a small scoop of peppermint ice cream, cappuccino chocolate chips, hazelnut, vanilla …
Please let me know in the comments how you like this hot chocolate! I love to hear from you.
Would you like more warm drinks? Warm up with a hot swirl, Irish coffee, or pumpkin chai latte.
Favorite hot chocolate
- Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Cooking time: 5 minutes
- Total time: 10 mins
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Drink
- Method: stove
- Kitchen: American
Warm up with this delicious hot chocolate recipe! It consists of cocoa powder, real chocolate, the milk of your choice and a splash of maple syrup. Recipe makes 2 cups; divide or multiply as desired.
- 2 cups Milk of your choice *
- 2 tablespoons Cocoa powder **
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup, to taste
- 2 ounces Quality chocolate, chopped (or ¼ cup Chocolate chips)
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla extract
- Topping of your choice (optional): whipped cream, marshmallows, shaved chocolate or one of the options offered by the mail
- In a medium saucepan, whisk the cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup until most of the cocoa powder is incorporated. Stir in milk.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it simmered gently (about 4 to 7 minutes) (do not let it come to a boil).
- Remove the hot chocolate from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate and vanilla extract until everything is well mixed. Try (careful, it’s hot) and add more maple syrup if you want a sweeter cup. Pour the hot chocolate into two cups, cover them with the side dishes you want and serve hot.
* Milk suggestions: Thicker, richer dairy products make better hot chocolate (think whole milk). Good plant-based options include homemade cashew milk or store-bought cashew milk (I like the Forager brand). Three trees and malk make creamy almond milk. Light coconut milk would be nice. Homemade oat milk thickened to a lot on heating so I don’t recommend it.
Cocoa Powder Notes: Regular or Dutch processed cocoa powder works well. Dutch processed offers a less sour chocolate taste. So if you had both to choose from I would choose Dutch.
Make it Dairy Free / Vegan: Use plant-based milk (see suggestions above) and choose dairy-free / vegan-friendly toppings.