Warm Up with a Mug of Chestnut Hot Chocolate

As the temperature outside dips below freezing, there is nothing I love more than a steaming mug of hot chocolate.

Oblique overhead vertical image of two clear glass mugs of chestnut hot chocolate topped with mini marshmallows, on a gray surface with scattered nuts, pieces of chocolate, and garnished, with a white cloth with a red stripe to the right, printed with orange and white text near the top and at the bottom of the frame.

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.

Vertical image of two clear glass mugs of hot chocolate, on a gray surface with scattered miniature marshmallows, pieces of dark chocolate, and whole roasted chestnuts, with a white cloth with red trim in soft focus in the background.
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.

Vertical overhead image of two glass mugs of a homemade warm chocolate beverage topped with miniature marshmallows, on a gray surface with scattered pieces of chocolate, marshmallows, and whole roasted chestnuts, with a red striped white kitchen towel to the right, on a dark gray surface.

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.

Vertical overhead image of two mugs of homemade chestnut hot chocolate topped with mini marshmallows, with scattered ingredients on a gray surface, and a white and red striped dish towel at the top and right of the frame.

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.

Gefen Organic Whole Roasted and Peeled Chestnuts, 5.2 Oz. (Pack of 4)

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.

Vertical head-on image of a hand holding a clear glass mug of chestnut hot chocolate topped with mini marshmallows, on a mottled dark gray background.

If you like your hot chocolate a little less sweet, halve the amount of honey called for in the recipe.

Print
Horizontal image of two clear glass mugs with handles, filled with homemade hot chocolate, on a gray surface with scattered pieces of a dark chocolate bar, whole roasted chestnuts, and mini marshmallows, with a white kitchen towel with red trim in the background in soft focus.

Chestnut Hot Chocolate


  • Author: Kendall Vanderslice
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x

Description

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.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the chestnuts and place in a saucepan. Add the milk. 
  2. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the pulp. 
  3. 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.
  4. Finely chop the chocolate and add it to the saucepan. Stir until it is completely melted. Add the honey and stir to combine. 
  5. 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.

Notes

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.

Overhead horizontal image of three round and three square glass bowls of orange zest, honey, pieces of dark chocolate, a vanilla bean, milk, and roasted chestnuts, on a gray surface.

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.

Overhead horizontal closely cropped image of finely chopped roasted chestnuts with a knife on a wooden cutting board, on a gray surface.

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.

Overhead horizontal image of a vanilla bean and pulp, on a blonde unfinished wood cutting board.

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.

Horizontal overhead closely cropped image of frothy milk flecked with vanilla bean pulp in a saucepan, on a gray surface.

Add the vanilla bean pulp, orange zest, and cinnamon to the saucepan.

Horizontal overhead closely cropped image of a saucepan filled with milk topped with dollops of orange zest and vanilla bean pulp, and a sprinkling of cinnamon, on a gray surface.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Overhead closely cropped horizontal image of a saucepan filled with a milk mixture flecked with orange zest and pieces of finely chopped chocolate, on a gray surface.

Add the chopped chocolate to the saucepan and stir until the chocolate has melted completely.

Horizontal overhead closely cropped image of a saucepan filled halfway with a melted chocolate and milk mixture, on a gray surface.

Stir in honey until combined.

Step 3 – Blend and Serve

Using a high-speed blender or food processor, puree the drink until completely smooth. The blended chestnuts will add a creamy richness.

Horizontal overhead closeup closely cropped image of a frothy chocolate beverage mixture in the bottom of a clear blender pitcher, on a gray surface.

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.

Vertical image of two clear glass mugs of hot chocolate, on a gray surface with scattered mini marshmallows, whole roasted chestnuts, and pieces of dark chocolate, with a white kitchen towel with red trim to the right, against a mottled dark gray background.

Divide the hot chocolate between two mugs and top with marshmallows. Serve immediately.

Sip and Enjoy

Ready to curl up with a cozy mugful?

For an extra bit of fun, I like to top mine with homemade marshmallows, or peppermint-flavored marshmallows for the best winter treat.

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.

Horizontal image of two clear glass mugs with handles, filled with homemade hot chocolate, on a gray surface with scattered pieces of a dark chocolate bar, whole roasted chestnuts, and mini marshmallows, with a white kitchen towel with red trim in the background in soft focus.

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:


Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of images showing different views of a chestnut hot chocolate drink.

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.

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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.

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