I don't think anyone would argue that hot chocolate is the coziest of cozy drinks. And since this is lil' blog is called A Cozy Kitchen I think I've gone way too long without sharing a proper recipe for it. So, let's talk about this Perfect Homemade Hot Chocolate.
Hot Cocoa vs. Hot Chocolate!
Let's talk about the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate. Hot cocoa is exactly that - cocoa powder dissolved into milk or (God forbid) water. I have good memories of hot cocoa, actually. When I was a kid, I used to sit in my way-too-long PJ t-shirt and watch cartoons, sipping on Swiss Miss cocoa mix. I also loooved dipping whole wheat bread into my hot cocoa. (I was a weird child.)
But during the holidays, it was always hot chocolate. My mom would tell us stories about how in Peru, on Christmas Eve, right before midnight mass, a big pot of hot chocolate was made. They'd take big blocks of chocolate, melt it and then mix it into warm milk until it dissolved. Real, thick hot chocolate is a game changer.
There's like two or three steps--this ain't rocket science.
How to Make Hot Chocolate!
- Step 1: Get your hands on some good chocolate. I had some Scharffenberger chocolate in my pantry. Other brands I love: Green & Black or Ghiradelli. I love using chopped chocolate for my hot chocolate; you could even use good quality chocolate chips. I like to use a dark chocolate (70%) or semi-sweet chocolate for my hot chocolate. I think it adds a nice depth and lends a lot of richness to this hot chocolate, but feel free to go sweeter if you like.
- Step 2: Don't be shy to add some other stuff like a cinnamon stick, ¼ of a vanilla bean or a splash of vanilla extract, some Ancho chile powder and salt. I looove steeping the milk or almond milk with a cinnamon stick and vanilla bean--it smells like heaven.
- Step 3: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and then add it to the warm milk. I tried it with just adding the chocolate straight to the milk and I swear the viscosity and mouth feel is better if you melt the chocolate first. If you're feeling particularly lazy and don't want to dirty an extra bowl, you're more than welcome to just add the chopped chocolate to the warm milk--it'll still be delicious.
- Step 4: And lastly, put it in a cute mug. Everything always taste better if the vessel you're using is cute and pretty. I found these in a vintage shop in Palm Springs. I basically want my whole kitchen to be copper. I'm going through a copper phase.
What Are Good Toppings for Hot Chocolate?
My favorite toppings for hot chocolate are marshmallows, fluffy whipped cream and chocolate shavings. I like to keep it simple!
Is It Better to Make Hot Chocolate with Milk or Water?
This is a common question. I like my hot chocolate with milk (or a milk alternative) compared to water. I like the richness that milk or a milk alternative give hot chocolate. Water makes it a bit too thin in my taste.
Hot Chocolate Recipe
- 4 cups whole milk or milk of choice (oat, almond, soy)
- 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- ¼ whole vanilla bean scraped (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
- 6 ounces dark chocolate 60%
- ¼ teaspoon Ancho chile powder
- Pinch kosher salt
- To a medium saucepan, placed over low heat, pour in the milk, sugar, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean caviar and bean. Heat until a very gentle simmer and take the saucepan off the heat and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean and discard.
- Create a double boiler, by setting a stainless steel or glass bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering water. Add the chocolate to the bowl and heat until the chocolate is melted.
- Place the steeped milk over medium low heat, and pour in the melted chocolate; whisk until completely incorporated and mixture is hot. Add a pinch of salt and ancho chile powder. Divide between mugs and top with homemade marshmallows.
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