Classic Hot Chocolate

There’s not much about cold weather that can’t be made better with hot cocoa. Invite friends and family in for a mug, take a thermos on a winter outing, or curl up with a cozy cup anytime for a dose of winter sustenance.

Classic Hot Chocolate

At its very simplest, hot cocoa requires just unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar and milk. You can customize the amounts to your preference for sweetness and depth of flavor, plus switch out sugar for other sweeteners like agave syrup, honey, maple syrup, stevia and more. Nondairy milks also work well.

Yields: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cocoa, no sugar added
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar, or 1/4 cup honey (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 4 1/2 cups low-fat milk, optional almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, optional peppermint extract
  • Cinnamon sticks for stirring (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat until steaming. Add cocoa, sweetener, and chocolate chips, stir until cocoa is combined.
  2. Warm over medium-low heat until all ingredients are combined and hot chocolate is to desired temperature. Add vanilla and stir to combine.
  3. Serve in mugs with a ladle and sprinkle a little cocoa or shredded dark chocolate.

1. Make Something for the Grownups

Thrill the adults in your crowd by giving each mug a hit of whiskey, brandy, Kahlua, amaretto or ginger liqueur.

2. Dial Up the Spice and Heat

Add a subtle amount of cayenne or ground chipotle and cinnamon for extra tongue-tingling warmth. Garnish each with a cinnamon stick stirrer if you like.

3. Whip Up Something Sweet and Salty

Sprinkle the top of each cup with a generous pinch of coarse sea salt, or squirt on Salted Caramel Sauce.

4. Go All Out with Candy Canes

Stick a festive candy cane into each mug for a colorful stirrer, or sprinkle crushed peppermints on top of a dollop of whipped cream.

5. Make a S’More in a Mug

Top mugs of cocoa with mini marshmallows, crushed gingerbread crumbs and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

6. Whisk Away to Somewhere Tropical

Make your cocoa with a coconut milk, then sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes and a pinch of nutmeg.

7. Add in Some Chai Spice

Heat your cocoa with a mix of cinnamon stick, whole cloves, cardamom pods and a thin slice of fresh gingerroot; strain out the spices before serving.