On a cold winter day, curling up in a blanket with a steaming mug of hot cocoa and a good book can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Most of us turn to store-bought mixes when we need a hot chocolate fix, and that will do the job in a pinch, but homemade hot cocoa is a truly decadent treat, and easier to make than you might realize.
Start with a Basic Recipe
The main elements of a delicious hot cocoa recipe are milk and chocolate. We prefer using chocolate chips (or coarsely chopped bar chocolate), but cocoa powder can also do the trick. If you do decide to use unsweetened cocoa powder, cut the quantity of the chocolate roughly in half, and add about 1/8 cup of sugar for every cup of milk in the recipe.
The great thing about making hot chocolate is that it’s hard to go wrong, so feel free to experiment with different proportions until you find the recipe that tastes just right. A good rule of thumb as a starting point is to use 1-part chocolate chips for every 3-4 parts milk. Chocolate chips can be milk chocolate or semisweet, and to make the recipe more decadent, try replacing some of the milk with heavy whipping cream or sweetened condensed milk.
To make the hot cocoa, combine the ingredients in a saucepan on the stove over low or medium heat, taking care not to boil the milk, as it alters the flavor. Stir continuously over heat until all the ingredients are combined and heated to a hot, not boiling temperature. A few drops of vanilla extract or peppermint oil can be the perfect finishing touch.
Try Something Different for Your Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is a delicious and classic treat, and there are countless options for customizing it to suit your taste or create a treat for special occasions. Here are some of our favorite alterations to this familiar tasty beverage:
- Red Velvet Cocoa. For a beautiful deep red velvet variation, add several drops of red food coloring to the cocoa, along with a splash of vanilla. Serve topped with whipped cream and sprinkles or red velvet cake crumbs.
- S’mores Hot Chocolate. Marshmallows are a classic hot cocoa topping, but why stop there? Rub a marshmallow around the rim of each mug to make it sticky, then dip the rim in crushed graham crackers. Toast marshmallows in the broiler to a nice golden brown before you add them to your drink and then top with more crushed graham crackers and a drizzle of chocolate or caramel syrup. Yum!
- Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate. What goes better together than peanut butter and chocolate? Add a smooth, nutty note to your hot cocoa by stirring in a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter for every cup of milk. Ensure no guests have a peanut allergy before serving.
- Candy Cane Cocoa. This alteration is simple enough but makes for a fun and whimsical holiday treat. Add a few drops of peppermint extract or peppermint oil to hot cocoa, and then top with whipped cream and crushed pieces of peppermint candy. Alternately, garnish your steaming mug with an entire candy cane, which will both serve as a stirring stick and slowly melt into your cocoa, adding to the peppermint taste.
These ideas are just a starting point – don’t be afraid to have fun, experiment, get creative, and try something new!
If hot chocolate spills on the carpet this winter, or sticky fingers find their way onto the furniture upholstery, give the COIT team a call. We’re always happy to help remove tough stains from tricky surfaces without damaging your furniture or carpet.