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Decadent Ways to Spice Up Hot Chocolate

Decadent Ways to Spice Up Hot Chocolate

We've rounded up some incredible hot chocolate recipes for winter

‘Tis the season for delicious hot chocolate! While some people believe matcha hot chocolate to be the perfect fixer-upper (if you can get your hands on some matcha powder), we believe hot chocolate is one of the most versatile drinks of the season. Take a classic hot chocolate with the perfect ratio of cocoa to milk, and add a dash of any of your favorite sweet spices for an extra kick. Our favorite? Ground cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg, on whipped cream, of course.

However, some glammed-up hot chocolate recipes are a bit more creative. From simple and homemade to over-the-top shakes, we’ve rounded up some of our very favorite ways to enjoy everyone’s favorite winter sip (or bite)! Some are perfect for lazy nights in, others are great as desserts for a party. Click through to find your go-to hot chocolate recipe, or share yours in the comments below.

— brooklynsupper, Babble


Cinnamon is a spice used by most to make delicious desserts such as sweet potato pie and churros. But it can also add a flavorful punch to hot coco. By either sprinkling it on whipped cream or adding it into the hot coco, cinnamon could be the kick that your taste buds crave.

Cinnamon with hot coco can be used a lot of ways. Most add it as a decorative spice. Two sticks of cinnamon dipped in whipped cream covered hot coco always makes for a nice picture. However, adding it directly to hot chocolate is a delicious decision that can't go wrong. It gives the beverage a subtle spicy taste that compliments the sweetness of the chocolate. It doesn't take much either, just a 1/2 teaspoon. Find the recipe for cinnamon hot chocolate here.


Decadent hot chocolate mix

Here is how I’ve made hot chocolate for most of my life: heat some milk in a saucepan, add a bit of unsweetened cocoa and sugar and whisk. Form lumps. Be unable to break up lumps. Get frustrated, try again, this time slowly slowly slowly whisking milk into cocoa and sugar, hoping to form something of a cocoa roux. Heat mixture until steamy and drink merrily, trying to ignore faint background of chalkiness. Hooray for cocoa?


Until this week, that is. This week, I saw a recipe for a homemade hot chocolate mix in this month’s Cook’s Illustrated that had my undivided attention because it wasn’t just cocoa and sugar but ground chocolate and vanilla and salt and and and… I mean, how bad could it be? What was the worst that could happen — we’d have to warm up with several cups of hot cocoa in a single week in the name of recipe testing? I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: sometimes, this job is the worst.

Shockingly, because given that the source is basically perfect, it wasn’t for me. Even more surprising, because I love bittersweet chocolate so much, I actually found it too bitter. But this just gave me the excuse to make more. I nixed the milk powder because I’m rather eh on it, especially when a) there’s real milk around or b) it would keep the recipe dairy-free so you could instead use steamed coconut, almond or soy milk. I switched out the unsweetened chocolate for semisweet/bittersweet, reduced the salt and vanilla a little and bumped up the cornstarch ever-so-slightly to encourage the mixture to dissolve perfectly, even without the powdered milk.

And then, well, I probably should pretend this heaping pile of miniature marshmallows was for the kindergartener. Because only a kindergartener would so shamelessly use a cup of decadent, gloriously rich hot cocoa as a vehicle for marshmallow consumption, right? I really should. But we all know the truth. Kindergarteners are at kindergarten during the day, giving adults an excuse to not act their age for a while. I regret nothing.

On Pinterest: Want a little visual guide to all 70 cookies in the Smitten Kitchen archives? How about some homemade food gifts? It’s beginning to look a lot like December over there, come see!

Facebook Notifications: Are you only sometimes finding out through Facebook when there is a new recipe here? Here’s how you can make sure you don’t miss a single one: once you’ve liked the smitten kitchen page (thank you!) you can use the dropdown menu right under the “liked” button to select “get notifications.” This lets Facebook know going forward that they shouldn’t dare get between you and your marshmallow-studded hot chocolate.

Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix
Adapted a little from Cook’s Illustrated

This is the ideal homemade December gift to pack up for friends and family, if I do say so myself. It’s both rich and deeply chocolaty, without being excessively sweet. Add some homemade springy fluffy marshmallows or the my new favorite thing to dunk in hot chocolate (next up!) if you want to do it up further.

Yield: Just under 1 3/4 cups mix, enough for 9 cups packs up well in a 2-cup jar
Prep time: Seriously like 10 minutes

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
3 ounces (85 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (40 grams) cocoa powder, any kind you like
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from a tiny segment of fresh vanilla bean
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until powdery. Don’t have a food processor? Chop or grate the chocolate until it is as fine as you can get it, and stir it into the remaining ingredients. Mixture keeps in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.

To use: Heat one cup of milk (coconut, almond or others would work here too) in a saucepan over medium heat until steamy. Add 3 tablespoons hot cocoa mix. Whisk over heat for another minute or two, until it begins to simmer and mix is completely dissolved. Pour into mug, top with mini-marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream and hide somewhere nobody will make you share give it to someone you love.

Other flavors: CI walks you through how to make variations including Mexican Hot Chocolate (with some chile powder, cayenne and cinnamon), Mint Hot Chocolate (with mint extract instead of vanilla), Mocha Hot Chocolate (with a couple tablespoons of espresso powder) and usually I’d say “have fun with it!” I mean, you can and should. But I have to admit to being a bit of a traditionalist with my cocoa, and would take the pure chocolate flavor of the above recipe over anything that would clutter my tastebuds. Then again, maybe you shouldn’t listen to someone who needs a minimum of two dozen mini-marshmallows on a single cup of hot chocolate?

Packaging ideas: Had I more time, I might have picked up some charming Weck Juice Jars or Tulip Jars (.5 liter size, which will give you some space at the top — perfect for a handful of marshmallows?), either of which can be used later for pickling or storage. I used Mason jar-ish mugs with lids (1, 2), which could be used later for hot chocolate consumption. You could tie a a tablespoon measure on as well with ribbon, to make their end of the work even easier.


Fruity: Oma’s Cherry Vodka

This should be pretty self-explanatory. Oma’s Cherry Vodka , a craft spirit dreamed up by a woman with a pretty extraordinary life , is extremely cherry-flavored (150 cherries per bottle). Hot chocolate is chocolate-flavored. Adding Oma’s to hot chocolate makes the delicious travel mug in your hands taste like a melty chocolate-covered cherry. It’s delicious. 80 proof.

Similarly tasty: Fragola Wild Strawberry Liqueur (like this, but strawberries)


Ways to Spike Hot Chocolate


Chicago Tribune

Grown Up Hot Chocolate with Homemade Bailey’s Marshmallows

Elevate classic hot chocolate with the addition of marshmallow-flavored vodka. Feeling extra festive? Whip up a batch of boozy homemade marshmallows for topping.


How Sweet Eats

Mexican Hot Chocolate with Tequila and Cayenne Pepper

The most appropriate add-in for a boozy take on spicy Mexican hot chocolate? Tequila, of course.


Creative Culinary

Boozy Pumpkin White Chocolate Hot Chocolate

White hot chocolate with plenty of pumpkin pie spice and a kick of Kahlua or bourbon—whichever strikes your fancy.


Minimalist Baker

Spiked Nutella Hot Chocolate

The additions of Kahlua, Frangelico and Nutella make for an ultra-decadent mug of hot chocolate.

The 65 Best Grilling Wines for End of Summer


Will Cook For Smiles

Boozy Raspberry Hot Chocolate

Chocolate and raspberries make quite the match. Raspberry liqueur packs a punch of flavor in this creamy favorite.


Host the Toast


10 ways to spice up your hot chocolate

This cup of hot chocolate has an extra zip of warmth, thanks to a few spoons of bourbon. It’s also got a little bit of coconut crunch on top, as well as coconut milk included with the regular dairy. Save this for nights when you are craving something extra-rich. Recipe: Sheknows.com

Chai-spiced Hot Chocolate

When choosing a warming drink, it’s often a toss-up between hot chocolate and chai. It turns out that this is actually a false choice, however, because you can have both in one! This hot chocolate is nicely spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Recipe: Thedailymeal.com

Lemongrass Lavender White Hot Chocolate

In every group of people, there's always the odd person who prefers white chocolate to the usual, darker variety. This white hot chocolate recipe goes an extra mile, bringing in the unique flavours of lemongrass and lavender, proving that white chocolate, too, can be an excitingly versatile flavor. Recipe: Seriouseats.com

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate With Sea-salt Whipped Cream

Anyone who’s watched a few competitive cooking shows knows that a balance of flavours is essential to creating a perfect dish — or mug of hot chocolate, as the case may be. Most hot chocolates are purely sweet, but this one adds a zing of salt in the form of fluffy sea-salt whipped cream. Recipe: Adventures-in-cooking.com

Cake Batter White Hot Chocolate

Remember that childhood feeling of sneaking tastes of raw cake batter when your parents weren’t looking? This cake batter hot chocolate will bring it all back, but no one will smack your hand away when you reach for another taste. Don’t forget the sprinkles! Recipe: Thesmarkcookiecook.com

Maple Bacon Hot Chocolate

Hear us out! This hot chocolate is a bit of a production, but it was created by the incredibly ingenious snack chefs at Coolhaus, the hip LA food truck that reinvented dessert. This recipe takes a little time and effort, but it’ll be worth it for the look on your friends’ and family’s faces when they see bacon on their hot chocolate. Recipe: Abcnews.go.com

Orange Hot Chocolate

Orange and chocolate are a classic combination, so naturally hot chocolate with a little bit of citrusy orange flavor is an automatic win. You can also experiment with adding a little bit of orange liqueur like Curaçao or Grand Marnier for an extra dose of decadence. Recipe: Rachelcooks.com

Pumpkin Hot Chocolate

The pumpkin-spiced coffee craze tends to fizzle out post-Christmas, but pumpkin hot chocolate is an entirely different beast. Unlike pumpkin spice, pumpkin hot chocolate doesn’t just use pumpkin pie spices — it uses pumpkin puree itself. The result is a full and flavorful cup of delicious cocoa. Recipe: Sheknows.com

Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate

Cacao beans originated in ancient Mesoamerica (a region stretching from central Mexico down to Costa Rica), and the Aztecs had their own version of hot chocolate: xocolātl. In the hundreds of years since, Mexico has refined its own version of hot chocolate, and it has become a worldwide favourite. This spicy drink uses chilli peppers and uses dark, rich chocolate to create an extremely full flavour. Recipe: Theendlessmeal.com

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10 ways to spice up your hot chocolate

The phrase “dog days of summer” refers to the exhaustingly hot days deep in the heart of summer, but what do we call the deep stretch of winter that runs from mid-January to early March? That bone-cold, long, post-holiday stint when it seems like winter will never end? We propose “hot chocolate days,” because, without &hellip

The phrase “dog days of summer” refers to the exhaustingly hot days deep in the heart of summer, but what do we call the deep stretch of winter that runs from mid-January to early March? That bone-cold, long, post-holiday stint when it seems like winter will never end?

We propose “hot chocolate days,” because, without any big festivities or sunny days on the horizon, it’s really delicious hot cocoa that gets us through. But if we’re going to be drinking hot chocolate for over two months, we’d better find ways to keep it interesting. Variety is the spice of life, and spice often lends variety to hot chocolate!

So without further ado, here are ten variations on the classic cup of cocoa that will get you through the darkest days of winter. In fact, you might even regret it (just a little) when they end.


Spicy Hot Chocolate (with a kick!)

After seeing the movie Chocolat, I was really excited to try spicy hot chocolate made with red pepper. It took me a while, but I finally got around to it. I tried one recipe that called for 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I love spicy, so I thought, why not? It almost knocked me out. Apparently, the authentic &ldquoAztec&rdquo hot chocolate is quite spicy, but it wasn&rsquot for me. It took away too much of the sweet, which is what I really wanted. Not to mention, it was an assault on the senses.

I edited the recipe to make a sweet, salty, and spicy hot chocolate. It has just a little kick. It was perfect after walking around the in freezing cold of January in New England the other day.

Not only is it cheaper and more delicious to make your own hot chocolate from scratch- it&rsquos also wicked easy and so much healthier. The bad- this recipe does have refined sugar in it (brown sugar is just regular white sugar mixed with molasses). However, look at the ingredients in a normal packaged hot chocolate mix:

sugar, corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa (processed with alkali), hydrogenated coconut oil, nonfat milk, calcium carbonate, less than 2% of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglyderides, artificial flavor. Contains milk.

Why is that necessary? This is why it&rsquos important to read ingredient labels. On the front of the packet, it claims that it has &ldquoas much calcium as a glass of milk!&rdquo without addressing the fact that it also contains tons of processed ingredients and chemicals. Also, when products add calcium artificially, your body doesn&rsquot really know what to do with it and it&rsquos much less effective. That&rsquos why using whole milk will get your body the calcium it needs, naturally.

Anyway, enough of my rant about excessive ingredients in processed foods and fake health claims. Here is how to make delicious hot chocolate with a kick!

Fill up a mug with milk (or two, or however many servings you are going to make) and put the milk in a saucepan on the stove. I do this step only so that I know exactly how much fits in a mug so there is no waste, but I get as much delicious hot chocolate as possible!

For each serving, add 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, and just a small sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Turn on the heat to medium-low and whisk together. It will get less powdery as it heats up. Try to whisk constantly to prevent the milk from scalding, and don&rsquot let it boil.

Voila! Spicy hot chocolate that won&rsquot knock you out in only 5 minutes. Now get cozy and drink up!


18 Hot Chocolate Recipes That Will Change the Way You Feel About Winter

It used to be, “Give us a piña colada and we’ll be happier than a pig in mud,” but lately, hot chocolate is kinda changing our tune. While we formerly considered ourselves creatures of the summer, now we’re all about fall and winter &mdash because all the different variations of hot chocolate are totally altering the way we think about tropical frozen beverages and cold weather. Yup, give us some snow and sleet &mdash as long as you lock us in a room with a fireplace and tons of hot chocolate.

And we’re not just talking about that powdered packet stuff. Hot chocolate can get old quickly if you’re not doing it right. Why settle for the mundane milk and chocolate combo when there are so many other yummy ways to go?

So you’ve been through these but still need some warm beverage recipes to get you through the winter? Look no further. Here are some more of our coziest cold-weather recipes to fill your mug.

Pumpkin hot chocolate

It&rsquos pumpkin season! What could be more cozy and timely than a warm cup of pumpkin hot chocolate? Drink up from October to the new year.

Red velvet hot chocolate

Time to bring a little dessert vibe to your hot chocolate. This red velvet hot chocolate does just that. With its pretty color, it&rsquod be the perfect hot drink for the holidays.

Hot dark chocolate with cinnamon and cognac

This winter cup of warmth is for adults only. Hot dark chocolate with cinnamon and cognac is spiked and seasoned &mdash perfect on a cold night in.

Dairy-free peppermint hot chocolate

If you&rsquore not down with dairy, you can still enjoy a mug of hot chocolate. This dairy-free peppermint hot chocolate is made with your favorite non-dairy milk, peppermint tea and, of course, cocoa powder.

Bourbon coconut hot chocolate

If you like bourbon, you’ll love this bourbon coconut hot chocolate drink. The richness of coconut milk might be enough to make this hot drink a delight, but then add bourbon, heavy cream, chocolate and toasted coconut &mdash yes, please!

Frozen hot chocolate, two ways

Take your hot chocolate drinks into the deep freeze. You&rsquoll love these options for frozen hot chocolate, two ways (milk chocolate and white chocolate), that are on the chilly but delicious side.

Hot cocoa mix ornaments

If you&rsquore looking to share the hot cocoa love with someone, try these super-cute hot cocoa mix ornaments. It&rsquos a craft you can drink.

Slow cooker, big-batch hot chocolate

Trying to warm up a crowd? Slow cooker, big-batch hot chocolate is the way to go. This is perfect for a fuss-free treat for the gang.


Combine ½ cup each white wine vinegar, sugar and water in a medium pot along with a couple of sprigs fresh thyme. Bring to a boil then cool slightly. Pour over 1 cup each corn kernels, diced bell pepper, chopped tomatillos, 2 sliced scallions, ½ minced jalapeno and season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes or overnight in an airtight container. Grill hot dogs and top with corn relish and mustard.

Top grilled hot dogs with crispy French fries (using frozen here is just fine), roughly chopped cheese curds, and your favorite gravy. You can continue to load this up with other toppings like crispy bacon, chopped onions, and jalapenos if you like. Best served on a soft potato hot dog bun!


12 delicious hot chocolate recipes to warm you up all season long

Blustery weather isn't all bad news. After all, it can lead to many wonderful things, like snow days, sledding and the excuse to stay on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate.

And this year, when we are all forced to cozy up indoors whether it's cold outside or not, we can all appreciate a comforting (and delicious!) sip. Plus, the holiday season is always the perfect excuse to enjoy a rich and creamy drink.

To get in the spirit of settling in with a piping cup of cocoa and a classic Christmas movie, here are 12 recipes for endless sips of the sweet stuff. Trust us, many of these are so easy to make that you'll be saying so long to the boxed mixes in no time.

Martha Stewart's Favorite Hot Chocolate

This perfectly chocolaty recipe from Martha Stewart is a great, simple recipe for classic cocoa to keep on hand. Use it as a base and then mix it up depending on your taste with add-ins like cayenne pepper, cinnamon and vanilla.

Hot Chocolate ɻombs'

These chocolaty spheres hide a surprise inside. When you pour hot milk over them, the chocolate melts and magically releases marshmallows and hot chocolate mix, creating an incredible cup of hot cocoa.

Microwave Nutella Hot Chocolate

Make this warming treat in less than five minutes. Just melt Nutella (or your favorite chocolate-hazelnut spread) with milk in the microwave. It's a totally decadent drink.

Spiked Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

Keep that jar of Nutella out on your bar cart. This recipe is one fit for happy hour by spiking it with your choice of bourbon, Frangelico, cacao rum or chocolate liqueur.

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

Combine the rich creaminess of hot chocolate with the warm spices of gingerbread into one delicious drink. The spiciness matches perfectly with both creamy milk and earthy dark chocolate.

Slow-Cooker Hot Chocolate

Andes mint fans will love the addition of creme de menthe in this recipe. Use your slow cooker to whip up the easiest hot chocolate ever, then top the mugs with dollops of whipped cream and crushed peppermint.

Jalapeno Hot Chocolate

Spice up hot chocolate with a hit of fiery jalapeños, plus fragrant cinnamon and vanilla. This twist on a classic treat won't soon be forgotten by those who love a little something extra.

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Almond Milk Hot Chocolate

Cacao is bursting with healthful antioxidant compounds, which may help prevent free radicals from developing into harmful cells. Almond milk is a great dairy-free alternative, but it still offers a rich flavor for this deliciously warm beverage.

Turtle Hot Chocolate Float

This over-the-top hot chocolate float can work as a decadent drink or wow-worthy dessert. And don't forget this wild hot chocolate trend: red wine hot chocolate — which is as easy as adding a splash of your favorite red wine to a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Yes, when it comes to wintertime drinks, you really can have it all.

Nutmeg Hot Chocolate

Enhance the smooth chocolate flavor of a classic with a dusting of spicy nutmeg. Adding a bit of rum turns a kid-friendly treat into a beverage adults will love to drink after dinner.

Unicorn White-Hot Chocolate

As if hot cocoa didn't make every child's snow day dreams come true, this recipe adds magic and color to the mix with a unicorn theme. It's also great to make in big batches for a winter birthday party.

Reindeer Tracks Hot Chocolate

Chopped pecans, crushed pretzels and chocolate trot along the top of this creamy brew. The reindeer may have left their tracks behind in this mug but your guests certainly won't. This recipe is so tasty, the mug will be licked clean!