10 Ways to Get Your Hot Chocolate Fix This Winter

The secret to surviving the winter is taking advantage of all the season has to offer. In the kitchen, we’re talking comfort foods and warm drinks. Hot chocolate is especially necessary for the colder months, and there many recipes you can employ to avoid turning to the powder packets at home.

Whether you like your hot chocolate rich, light, flavored, or even dairy-free, there’s a recipe on this list for you. There are a surprising number of ways to perfect homemade hot chocolate, and no recipe will take you more than a few minutes. Pick out your ingredients of choice, and get to work. A steaming mug of homemade hot chocolate is awaiting you.

1. Classic Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate | iStock.com

First up is a cup of the classic hot cocoa you know and love. The recipe for the good stuff comes from Fine Cooking. It simply enlists cocoa powder, whole milk, sugar, and a pinch of table salt. Marshmallows are optional but highly encouraged. There’s no reason to drink powdery hot chocolate mixes when you can make your own. All you need to do is combine cocoa powder, sugar, and milk in a saucepan. Cook your cocoa until it’s hot for about 4 to 5 minuets, and then serve it with mini marshmallows. This recipe serves 3 to 4 and is one to always store in your back pocket for winter.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch table salt
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • Mini marshmallows (optional), for garnish

Directions: Put the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour in ¼ cup of the milk, and whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Pour in the remaining milk, and whisk to combine. Set the pan over medium to medium-high heat. Cook, whisking frequently, until hot, 4 to 5 minutes. For best flavor, do not let the cocoa boil. Serve hot, topped with mini marshmallows, if you like.

2. Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa

hot chocolate surrounded by chocolate pieces

Hot chocolate | iStock.com

Instead of using cocoa powder, you can enlist full bars of baking chocolate to master homemade hot cocoa. Take this recipe for dark chocolate hot cocoa from Martha Stewart as an example. It’s all about the whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, and quality bittersweet chocolate. Together, those ingredients develop into a thick, rich chocolate drink you can slurp or drink with a spoon. The indulgent hot cocoa makes the cold winter weather almost worth it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions: Warm milk and cream in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add chocolate. Whisk until melted and combined. Add sugar, and whisk until dissolved. Continue to warm mixture until thick, about 5 minutes. Whisk in nutmeg.

3. Slow-Cooker White Chocolate Hot Cocoa

hot chocolate with whip cream

Hot chocolate | iStock.com

You also can go for white chocolate. Yes, white chocolate hot cocoa exists, and this recipe from Betty Crocker helps you to make it using the slow cooker. White chocolate pairs with milk and cream just as well as dark chocolate does, and you can add coffee liqueur to your drink for an extra twist. The recipe serves 8, and your hot chocolate will cook in the slow cooker for about 2 hours. Top each serving with whipped cream and coffee-flavored liqueur, if desired, and go to town.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces white vanilla baking chips
  • 5 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Coffee-flavored liqueur, if desired (1 ounce per serving)
  • Whipped cream and miniature marshmallows, if desired

Directions: In a 4-quart slow cooker, place baking chips, milk, heavy cream and vanilla.

Cover; cook on Low heat setting 2 to 2 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Serve immediately, or decrease to Warm heat setting to keep hot until ready to serve.

Add 1 ounce coffee liqueur to cup before pouring hot cocoa into cup. Top each serving with whipped cream and miniature marshmallows.

4. Spiked Hot Chocolate

pouring hot chocolate into a mug

Hot chocolate | Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

Another way to make the winter more bearable is by enjoying a liquid blanket thanks to spiked hot drinks, such as this boozy hot chocolate from Bon Appetit. Everyone knows marshmallows and whipped cream pair well with chocolate, but what some don’t realize is bourbon is complementary, too. And if you don’t have bourbon at the ready, any dark caramel-flavored liquor will do. Prepare your hot chocolate as normal, and then add the liquor at the end. Divide the drink among 4 mugs, and top with marshmallows.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons crushed cinnamon sticks
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons demerara or granulated sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Toasted marshmallows (for serving)

Directions: Bring milk and cinnamon to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally and making sure milk doesn’t boil, until cinnamon is floral and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Whisk in chocolate, sugar, and salt and cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and creamy and chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup; discard cinnamon.

Add bourbon to hot chocolate mixture, and stir to combine. Divide among mugs, then top with toasted marshmallows.

5. Nutella Hot Chocolate

two mugs of hot chocolate with whipped cream

Hot chocolate | iStock.com

Nutella hot chocolate, anyone? This recipe from The Kitchn teaches that you can sub out cocoa powder for Nutella and still enjoy a rich frothy drink with hazelnut flavor. Mix the Nutella with milk on the stove, and add in some bourbon or rum if you’re looking to make a sweet, hot cocktail. This Nutella hot chocolate is both kid- and adult-approved, and everyone can customize their cups as they like. The recipe serves 2.

  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ⅓ cup Nutella
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 ounces bourbon, Frangelico, cacao rum, or chocolate liqueur, optional
  • Whipped cream or marshmallows, to top

Directions: In a pot over medium-high heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Add the Nutella, stirring until it has melted and become incorporated. Add the cinnamon stick, and bring to a simmer.

Divide the bourbon between two mugs, if using (2 ounces per mug). Ladle the hot milk mixture into the mugs, and serve with fresh whipped cream or marshmallows. If serving with marshmallows, toast on a foil-lined baking sheet under the broiler for 30 to 45 seconds, until golden.

6. Peppermint Hot Chocolate

hot chocolate with marshmellows

Hot chocolate | iStock.com

Peppermint hot chocolate is not a new drink on the block, but far too many people buy it from Starbucks instead of making their own at home. This recipe from Food Network shows you how easy it is to do the latter. If you have milk, cream, sugar, chocolate, and peppermint oil, you can make it work.

Combine all of the ingredients except chocolate and peppermint in a saucepan, and let the mixture begin to steam. At that time, add in the chopped chocolate and eventually the peppermint oil. You’ll have yourself a peppermint hot chocolate that is cheaper and cleaner than the beverage you get at the coffee shop. Now you can make it all winter long.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 drops peppermint oil
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish
  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Directions: In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and salt, and heat over medium-low heat. When the cream mixture just begins to steam, add the chopped chocolate, and stir, until melted. Stir in the peppermint oil. Divide the hot chocolate among mugs and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

7. Mexican Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate with marshmallow

Hot chocolate with marshmallow | iStock.com

Next up is Mexican hot chocolate from Epicurious. Mexican hot chocolate is all about the spices, chili, and cocoa. To make the sweet treat, combine evaporated milk, whole milk, vanilla, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and chili powder in a saucepan. More cinnamon, a dried chili, and bittersweet chocolate pieces go in next, and then you bring your mixture to a simmer.

Ladle your hot cocoa into 8 teacups before topping it with homemade whipped cream laced with cinnamon, and you’re good to go. You can even spike your Mexican hot chocolate with chocolate liqueur to really make it a treat worth sipping.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups reduced-fat (2 percent) evaporated milk
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup chocolate liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 10 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 2 ½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

Directions: Whisk evaporated milk, whole milk, liqueur, vanilla, sugar, cocoa, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and chili powder in a heavy saucepan. Add 2 of the cinnamon sticks and chili, and cook gently over medium-low heat until warm. Add chocolate, and cook, whisking until melted. Gently bring to a high simmer; reduce heat and simmer until liquid thickens and reduces slightly, whisking often, 10 minutes.

Combine heavy cream with remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and beat until peaks form. Ladle ⅓ cup hot cocoa into each of 8 teacups; top with 1 tablespoon whipped cream and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

8. Vegan Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate in a mug

Hot chocolate | iStock.com

Vegan friends, have no fear. You can get your hot chocolate fix in the winter, too. To do so, all you need to do is make homemade cashew milk, and combine it with cocoa powder, stevia, and vanilla extract. You’ll get 2 servings of the cocoa mixture that can be topped with boiling water and served.

To make the vegan hot chocolate, follow this recipe from Food.com. Make the cashew milk by placing cashews and water in a blender and pureeing until smooth. This recipe proves your hot chocolate doesn’t have to be full of heavy cream to be delicious.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup cashews
  • 1 cup water (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 20 drops stevia
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions: Place cashews and (room temperature) water in a blender; puree on high until completely smooth and no lumps of cashew remain.

Blend in cocoa, agave, stevia, and vanilla. Divide cocoa mixture evenly between 2 mugs. Top off each mug with ½ cup boiling water.

9. Coconut Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate, pastries, cheese

Hot chocolate | iStock.com

For a fun twist of traditional hot chocolate, try this coconut hot chocolate from Chowhound. It serves 2, enlists 3 ingredients, and takes only 10 minutes to make, proving that for good hot chocolate, all you need is your liquid of choice and high-quality chocolate.

To make your cocoa coconut-flavored, combine coconut milk and whole milk, and add in the chopped chocolate once the milk mixture has begun simmering. Keep the hot chocolate on the heat until the chocolate has melted. Then, your coconut hot cocoa is ready to be served.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 5 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions: Combine coconut milk and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, and cook until simmering, about 4 minutes.

Add chocolate, and whisk until completely melted and well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

10. Espresso Hot Chocolate

hot chocolate in a glass mug

Hot chocolate | iStock.com

Everyone can use a kick of caffeine in his or her hot chocolate, and that’s what this recipe from Bon Appetit is here for. With espresso hot chocolate, you don’t need to decide between coffee and hot chocolate in the morning. You can have both by mixing together whole milk, chocolate, sugar, and espresso.

Bring the mixture to a simmer in a saucepan. Divide it among mugs, top with whipped cream, and go to town. This recipe yields a homemade version of a mocha, and it’s the perfect treat to indulge in that makes winter just a little more bearable.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons crushed cinnamon sticks
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons demerara or granulated sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • ½ cup espresso
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream and chocolate-covered espresso beans for serving

Directions: Bring milk and cinnamon to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally and making sure milk doesn’t boil, until cinnamon is floral and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Whisk in chocolate, sugar, and salt and cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and creamy and chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup; discard cinnamon.

Add espresso to hot chocolate mixture, and stir to combine. Divide among mugs, then top with whipped cream and espresso beans, if desired.

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