If your only experience with hot chocolate at home has been from the little tear-open foil lined envelopes, you're seriously missing out. Using just a handful of ingredients and a few minutes of your time, you can whip up the most decadent hot chocolate you've ever tasted. Trust me. It's worth the (minor amount of) extra effort.
For whatever reason, most Americans have only ever had "hot cocoa," which is different than "hot chocolate." And even the "hot cocoa" that most of our neighbors have tried is a far cry from what real, homemade drinking chocolate actually should taste like. While you know I'm a sucker for store bought hacks to make life easier, this is one occasion that I'll implore you to go "full scratch" and make your own.
Table of Contents
- Gettin' Hygge With It
- What is the Difference Between Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate?
- How to Make Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Need more cozy weather food-spiration? Check out these other recipes:
Gettin' Hygge With It
This time of year, I have to lean full on into hygge, the Danish art of being cozy. The days are perilously short, the weather is abrasively cold, the stress of the holidays is still on the uptick, and work hasn't slowed down a bit. If this sounds familiar, I encourage you to do the winter version of stopping to smell the roses - make some of this easy, sultry, decadently rich hot cocoa, stat.
Oh, and if you're in the market for some awesome DIY holiday gifts this year, this is a great recipe. I'll teach you how to make this into a homemade hot chocolate mix that you can package and ship easily, so your loved ones can lean into the hygge season, too.
What is the Difference Between Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate?
The difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate is spelled out in the name - hot cocoa is made using cocoa powder, while hot chocolate is made using real bona fide chocolate. It just so happens that I like to use both, resulting in a super rich, deeply chocolate drink that can warm even the grinchiest of hearts.
I also prefer to use organic cacao powder instead of cocoa powder, as it is higher in antioxidants and flavonoids. Did you know cacao has been associated with reduced inflammation, reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes and lower blood pressure?? By making the simple switch to cacao powder, your hot chocolate gets a nice little boost of nutrition.
I don't know about y'all, but in the midst of this global health crisis, I'm ALL FOR getting any extra nutrition in my body. Especially if there's chocolate involved!
How to Make Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
This is an awesome DIY holiday gift for all of you who are short on time and cash. With just a few ingredients and your handy food processor, you can have a delicious hot chocolate mix that is closer to drinking chocolate than the store bought envelopes we all grew up with.
All you need is cacao powder (or cocoa powder), good quality chocolate, brown sugar and a pinch of salt to make the best hot chocolate mix around. Toss everything into the bowl of your food processor fitted with the blade attachment and whiz around for about a minute until the chocolate is nice and tiny.
Pour into a mason jar for later use, or make a batch immediately by heating up four cups of milk and whisking the mix in until it's nice and creamy. It's literally that simple!
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of milk should I use?
As a happy omnivore and someone who has never gotten on board with a low fat diet, I'm very pro whole milk and/or half-n-half for this hot chocolate recipe. That said, I know some of you out there are looking for dairy free or healthier alternatives.
If you're going dairy free, I highly recommend using canned coconut milk. Coconut milk seems to have the highest fat content out of the dairy alternatives, and fat is hot chocolate's friend. Oh, and you can also use some of the solid coconut cream to whip into a yummy vegan topping, too!
That said, this recipe will also work perfectly well with any unsweetened oat, almond, hemp, soy or any other alternative milk out there. Just note that it will not be quite as thick or as rich.
Can I make vegan hot chocolate?
You sure can! Just be sure to opt for vegan certified chocolate and use whatever dairy free milk you prefer. Read the query above for more information on the best kinds of milk to use.
What is the best kind of chocolate to use for hot chocolate?
My favorite kind of hot chocolate is pretty dark and intense. I'm not looking for a sugar bomb. As a result, I like to use bittersweet (or semisweet, if I'm feeling nostalgic) chocolate. If you're looking for something a little less intense, I recommend using semisweet chocolate mixed with milk chocolate.
I also recommend that you use a pretty high quality chocolate that doesn't have any additives. Guittard is my go-to, but Ghiradelli, Lindt, Valrhona, Jaques Torres or Callebaut also fit the bill. If you're looking for a more affordable option, Aldi carries a line called Choceur that is also quite good, as is Trader Joe's store brand. While you can use brands like Hershey's or Nestle, they will not be quite as delicious.
If you opt to go the chocolate bar route, there are some pretty fun flavors out there. I happen to love spicy chocolate, so I'd definitely recommend using Lindt's Chili Chocolate bar. Orange, mint, hazelnut or coffee infused chocolates would all make delightful options too.
Can I make other flavors of hot chocolate?
You sure can! Read the last paragraph above for ideas of flavored chocolates you can use. You can also add in flavors by using extracts, essential oils or anything in your spice cabinet. Some ideas:
- Spice cabinet: cinnamon or cayenne (or both!)
- Powders: peanut butter or instant coffee/espresso
- Nut butters: peanut butter, Nutella, almond butter
- Essential oils:orange, cassia, cinnamon, peppermint, wintergreen
- Extracts: vanilla, mint, orange, coconut, maple, coffee
- Orange zest
You can also switch up the flavor depending on your toppings. Whipped cream or marshmallows are a classic, but don't stop there! Drizzle with caramel, extra chocolate sauce, maple syrup or melted peanut butter. Garnish with candy canes or cinnamon sticks. Your imagination is the limit.
Can I make my own "hot chocolate mix" ahead of time to just add to milk?
Yes, you sure can! Not only is it great to whip up a batch for yourself so that you can easily make a cup of something yummy on the fly, it is also such a great DIY gift for the season!
One single batch will fit perfectly into a small 8oz mason jar and will make 4 servings. It can easily be scaled for a larger batch if necessary. Attach a small tag with heating instructions for the recipient.
If you want some ideas to round out the gift, consider adding:
- A cute mug
- Airplane bottles of booze
- Homemade marshmallows
- A flavored sugar grinder
- Peppermint spoons
- A bottle of fancy vanilla extract
Need more cozy weather food-spiration? Check out these other recipes:
- Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal
- Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup
- Instant Pot "Sous Vide" Style Egg Bites
- Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Breakfast Bars
Did you make this Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix recipe? If you did, let me know how it turned out by rating and reviewing it below!
Rich and Creamy Hot Chocolate Mix
- 4 C Milk of Choice
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- Place chocolate, cacao, salt and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until uniform consistency, about 2 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to three months at room temperature.
- To cook, heat milk of choice to a simmer. Add vanilla and mix, whisking to combine. Continue whisking until all chocolate is melted and incorporated.
- Serve warm with whipped cream, marshmallows or solo. Enjoy!
- Nutrition facts do not include the milk - depending on whether you choose half n' half, whole milk, lowfat milk, or any number of alternative milks, the nutrition will be quite different!