As the temperature outside dips below freezing, there is nothing I love more than a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
No, not those little packets of powder and tiny, dehydrated marshmallows. I mean the rich, thick, not-too-sweet kind that can only be achieved with real chocolate.
But what can really take your delicious, steaming mug over the edge and transform it into the most decadent dessert beverage is the addition of roasted chestnuts.
While I don’t quite roast my own over an open fire (though that would add another spectacular layer of flavor), this rich treat is perfect for those times when Jack Frost comes a’nipping at your nose.
If you haven’t cooked with chestnuts before, they’re often available at grocery stores and local markets during the winter holidays. And they can also be purchased online. We prefer whole chestnuts that have already been peeled and roasted like these from Gefen, available on Amazon.
Though this recipe requires a few steps more than the unquestionably inferior powder and hot water method, I promise it is well worth the time.
Chase away the chill in the air by warming up with a mug of chestnut hot chocolate. This isn’t the sad powdered stuff, it’s the real deal.
- 5 oz pre-cooked roasted and peeled chestnuts (about 1/2 cup)
- 12 fl oz whole milk (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 whole vanilla bean
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 oz dark chocolate
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 cup mini marshmallows (optional)
- Finely chop the chestnuts and place in a saucepan. Add the milk.
- Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the pulp.
- Add the vanilla pulp, orange zest, and cinnamon to a saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Finely chop the chocolate and add it to the saucepan. Stir until it is completely melted. Add the honey and stir to combine.
- Blend the mixture in a food processor or blender until completely smooth, and divide between two mugs. You could also use an immersion blender right in the pan. Top with marshmallows if you like, and serve immediately.
Recipe by Nina-Kristen Isensee.
Nutritional information below includes optional marshmallows.
- Category: Family Friendly Beverages
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Christmas
Keywords: hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts, chestnut, chocolate
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients
Zest an orange until you have 1/2 teaspoon of zest. Don’t have a zester? Check out our review of the best tools for the job.
Finely chop the chestnuts, and set them aside. If you like, chop a little extra for garnish. Finely chop the chocolate, and keep it separate from the chestnuts since this ingredient will be added later.
To capture all of that wonderful flavor from your vanilla bean, slit it down the middle lengthwise and scrape out the pulp inside. You can add the remaining bean to your sugar bowl to create a lovely flavored sweetener, add it to a bottle of alcohol to create an infusion, or discard it.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.
Step 2 – Cook
Add the chestnuts to a medium-sized saucepan along with milk.
Add the vanilla bean pulp, orange zest, and cinnamon to the saucepan.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add the chopped chocolate to the saucepan and stir until the chocolate has melted completely.
Stir in honey until combined.
Step 3 – Blend and Serve
Transferring hot liquid to your favorite blending appliance can be a tricky operation, and you’ll need to be careful to avoid steam burns. If you have one, you could also use an immersion blender right in the pan to froth up the mixture.
Divide the hot chocolate between two mugs and top with marshmallows. Serve immediately.
Sip and Enjoy
Ready to curl up with a cozy mugful?
Or for a more adult treat, add a shot of white rum or bourbon…
Of course, if you’re like me and you aim to embrace both your inner child and outer adult sides, you can indulge in the marshmallows and the booze.
What’s your favorite way to serve hot chocolate? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you’re craving even more hot beverages to celebrate the winter season, try these next:
- Bring Good Tidings with the Gift of Mulled Wine
- Warm Roasted Almond Milk: A Wintry Delight
- Give the Gift of Warmth with Our Comforting Holiday Hot Chocolate Mix
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Photos by Meghan Yager and Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via Gefen. Originally published on December 7, 2016. Last updated: December 11, 2019 at 20:16 pm. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager, Nina-Kristen Isensee, and Allison Sidhu.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.