Ultimate Hot Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes and Hacks

Chocolate, in all its forms, is probably my favorite thing in the whole world.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate | Foodal.com
Adding a peppermint stick and whipped cream is one surefire hot chocolate hack to bring a new taste to an old favorite.

For me, it’s right up there with coffee, which I also cannot live without. And while I adore a good candy bar – or even better, a 70% cacao bittersweet bar – it’s interesting to note that, like coffee, chocolate was solely consumed as a beverage for most of its existence. In fact, the first actual bar didn’t make an appearance until 1839.

The indigenous tribes of Mesoamerica all revered the drink derived from the cacao seeds, which come from the Theobroma cacao tree. In fact, the very word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word xocolatl (the “x” makes a “sh” sound).

The Aztecs and other groups drank their xocolatl with no sweetener, but after the Spaniards arrived and carried this popular native concoction back home in the 1500s, Europeans started adding sugar, vanilla, and other flavorings to the drink. Thus, we have the version that is known today as a popular cold weather treat.

The Best Hot Chocolate - Foodal.com
Hot chocolate, unlike it’s close brethren cocoa, features melted chunks from a bar.

As a side note, I would like to point out that while most folks use the terms “hot chocolate” and “hot cocoa” interchangeably, they are slightly different. Hot chocolate uses actual pieces of chocolate that are melted with hot milk. Hot cocoa uses cocoa powder, which is made when the fat, or cocoa butter, is removed from the ground cacao seeds, leaving behind the dry stuff that makes the powder.

The Best Hot Cocoa | Foodal.com
Basic Hot Cocoa
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The most simple form of this awesome beverage!
Servings
4 people
Servings
4 people
The Best Hot Cocoa | Foodal.com
Basic Hot Cocoa
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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The most simple form of this awesome beverage!
Servings
4 people
Servings
4 people
Ingredients
  • 4 cups milk,
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash salt
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and salt. Whisk to combine.
  3. Heat the hot cocoa to your desired temperature, top with marshmallow bits, chocolate shavings, or whipped cream, and enjoy!
    The Best Hot Cocoa | Foodal.com
Recipe Notes

Variations and Hacks

Instead of vanilla extract, try substituting it with peppermint or caramel. For peppermint, top with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candies. For caramel, drizzle some salted caramel sauce over the top of your whipped cream.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa with Chocolate Shavings | Foodal.com
If you love Nutella as much as I do, stir half a cup into your heated cocoa until it’s melted. To really take it over the top, chop a couple of Ferrero Rocher candies (or chop some hazelnuts and dark chocolate) and sprinkle the pieces over some whipped cream. Yum!

 

The winter solstice is upon us, and we all know that wintertime is prime hot chocolate and cocoa time. In my home, we are big hot chocolate fans. And I am the biggest fan of all.

I love the plain old regular version, but I also love mixing things up every now and then. With the start of winter just around the corner, I thought it would be a great time to introduce you to some new ways to enjoy this comforting beverage.

How to make the worlds world's best hot chocolate or cocoa | Foodal.com
Basic Hot Chocolate
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A bare bones hot chocolate recipe with plenty of hack options to make it your own!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
How to make the worlds world's best hot chocolate or cocoa | Foodal.com
Basic Hot Chocolate
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Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
A bare bones hot chocolate recipe with plenty of hack options to make it your own!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 cups milk,
  • 2 cups chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash of salt
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir occasionally, until all of the chocolate is melted and the drink is smooth.
  3. Serve with the toppings of your choice and enjoy!
    How to make the worlds world's best hot chocolate or cocoa | Foodal.com
Recipe Notes

Variations and Hacks

Make it Mexican! Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch or two of cayenne pepper. It’s delicious!

The Reese’s peanut butter cup is a thing of beauty. Replace two of the cups of milk with two cups of cream, use milk chocolate, and add a cup of creamy peanut butter, and you’ve got yourself a drink that fits the same flavor profile. Yum!

Dark chocolate and orange is a fantastic flavor combination. Cut back to just 8 ounces of dark chocolate, add 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, and throw in 2 tablespoons of orange zest to create one fantastic treat. Also, try Chelsea's Double Chocolate Orange Cookie Recipe if you are craving a similar taste profile in cookie form. Dunk these into your chocolate orange hot chocolate for double the fun (and flavor)!

 

Of course, if you want to liquor things up a bit, you can also always add a shot of Bailey’s, Grand Marnier, Frangelico, or Kahlua to your mug before you ladle up a serving of your basic recipe. That’s always tasty, too.

White Hot Chocolate | Foodal.com
Although this white version contains no actual cocoa, it will please the entire family, and serves as another option to add to your arsenal of hot chocolate hacks and recipes. It’s great with peppermint, too!

Now, even though white chocolate is not technically chocolate, I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t include my recipe for white hot chocolate here. My girls actually prefer this to regular hot chocolate, and it really hits the spot for me, too, when I’m in that kind of mood.

White Hot Chocolate | Foodal.com
White Hot Chocolate
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Servings
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Servings
4 servings
White Hot Chocolate | Foodal.com
White Hot Chocolate
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
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Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 cups milk,
  • 12 ounces chopped white chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir occasionally, until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Serve with the toppings of your choice and enjoy!
    White Hot Chocolate | Foodal.com
Recipe Notes

Variations and Hacks

Spice it up with warming spices! Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves for great depth of flavor.

If you love pumpkin like we do, pumpkin white hot chocolate is amazing. Add ½ cup of pumpkin puree and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to make a drink that could stand in for dessert.

Replace half of the plain white chocolate with some Andes peppermint crunch bits for a peppermint flavored concoction that is sure to please. I like to serve mine with some of the peppermint crunch bits sprinkled on top of the whipped cream as well. Regualar mint and chocolate candies will result in a smoother texture.

 

As you can see, I am a big fan of this seasonal beverage. I even have a hot chocolate station set up in our kitchen. I hope you’ll give some of these great variations a try!

And what better way to top of these warm and creamy drinks with some fluffy homemade marshmallows?

Top off your next cup of hot cocoa with our homemade mini marshmallows. We share the recipe: https://foodal.com/recipes/desserts/homemade-marshmallows/

Nothing But Fluffy Fun: Tasty Homemade Marshmallows in Your Favorite Flavors – Get the Recipe Now
Other than the classic vanilla-flavored marshmallow, try our peppermint version to savor the sweet and refreshing flavors of the winter holidays.  

What’s your favorite way to serve a steaming cup of hot chocolate at home? Where do you stand on the hot cocoa vs. chocolate debate? Let us know in the comments!

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

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About Ashley Martell

Ashley has enjoyed creative writing since she was six years old, when she wrote her first short story. She majored in English literature at the University of Montevallo. After years of professional work, she is now a stay-at-home mom of three, who uses her craft to write about her life and adventures in and out of the kitchen.

42 thoughts on “Ultimate Hot Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes and Hacks

  1. Truth be told, the chocolate fever has began and as a proud self-confessed chocoholic…, for starters this page has been bookmarked for daily reference up until we enter the new year, i just cooked some pancakes today and in the ingredients, chocolate and coffee did not lack…and the trend continues …Viva Chocolate and Coffee 😉

    • ‘A taste on my lips and pounds on my hips’…that’s the damage chocolate has done to me over the holiday season but no regrets…every moment was amazing!…and am still motivated to try out the said recipes above…it shall be done…soon 😉

  2. Thanks for posting this, maybe I can spice up my hot chocolates a little bit. There is nothing better than sitting down with a cup of it and read a book or just watch a movie. Especially that we are nearing Christmas, it helps me to get into a festive mood.

  3. Those recipes look fairly easy. I would love to try the white chocolate one. I love chocolate, all chocolate types depending on my mood. We never bother to make it that way. Right now we have a can of Tim Hortons Candy Cane Hot Chocolate and it taste great but I imagine homemade like these recipes taste way better.

  4. I’ve never made white hot chocolate before. I must say that I am one of those people who turns their nose up at white chocolate since it is not really chocolate. However, I am really looking forward to trying this white hot chocolate recipe. The idea of replacing some of the white chocolate with Andes peppermint crunch is genius!

  5. Yes! I absolutely love hot chocolate, but have never thought of making a white chocolate drink. I just made one and…

    *SPOILER ALERT*

    It was amazing. Also, I used a mint wafer tube as a straw and it added a nice minty taste.

  6. Thick and creamy is how I like my hot chocolate, none of the pale milky drinks for me. These days it’s easier to make with chips to make it even chocolatey. I usually like to dip in a cookie into it as well. As you can see I am a chocoholic.

    I’m finding more places are offering flavored hot chocolate and orange – it is a really good combination to try.

  7. WOW – I have to say you taught me so many things about chocolate that I had no clue about! I am with you and cannot either live without chocolate or coffee. Chocolate flavored coffee is actually one of the best things ever created! lol. I cannot wait to go do my groceries in a couple days and try some of these recipes out! Thanks 🙂

  8. Oh my goodness….these recipes are sublime! Chocolate and coffee are my most favourite things both individually, and combined in warming hot drinks. I’m experimenting with adding some spiciness to my drinks too.

    I particularly like your white chocolate recipe – this isn’t something I thought of doing before, so I’ll be trying this one today. For me, hot chocolate/cocoa and coffee combinations goes on all year round!

    Thanks for sharing your lovely recipes.

  9. Overall great post. I’ve always wanted to make some cocoa, especially at times like these, with the cold and all. Never thought it’s that easy, just made the classical one and it tastes great! Will be my go-to when it’s cold outside, so basically everyday for the next month haha. Thanks for the easy recipe!

  10. I am really interested in trying the Basic Hot Chocolate recipe! I once tried a hot cocoa recipe using cocoa powder, but my husband was not a fan. It might have needed a little more sugar or something, but I think he might really like the recipe using chocolate chips. Plus we usually have chocolate chips, but cocoa powder is not really something I use that much, so I would have to think of buying it ahead of time.

  11. Chocolate is my favorite thing to eat or drink. I will be making the Hot Coca drink to help keep me happy during this cold weather we are having right now.

  12. Haha, I’m one of those who uses hot chocolate and hot cocoa interchangeably! I love any hot chocolate drinks! My mother said the reason I can’t get enough of chocolate drinks is because that was her go-to-drink when she was still carrying me. Our local hot chocolate drink is made purely from roasted cacao seeds. Anyway, I was thinking of whipping my own hot chocolate drink, but instead of using chocolate bars, I’m going to use the locally made ‘tableya’ (100% roasted cacao beans milled into tablets).

  13. I just had to go back. Thanks to this recipe, I’m reminded again how delicious chocolate drinks are. It’s because of this recipe that I was reminded to buy ‘tableya’ – our local roasted cacao beans formed into tablets when I went to the supermarket early this evening. Thanks, thanks, I’m now enjoying my hot choco! Ah, bliss!

  14. Hot chocolate is my favourite type of drink when it’s very cold outside. Although I make it most of the times, I’ve never really used whipped cream. It doesn’t make it any better for me.
    On the other hand peppermint is a god-send for hot chocolate! Definitely recommend!

  15. These are all great cocoa recipes. I love hot chocolate, it’s my one weakness. Cinnamon or peppermint or any other topping, I don’t care, all of these are lovely. Before, I didn’t put any salt at all in my hot chocolates, because I didn’t get it, but I changed my mind when I tried it once. It really brought out the flavors of the drink and took away that overbearing creamy sweetness that made me have heartburn.

  16. Ooh, I was not aware there was a distinction between cocoa and hot chocolate. Good to know. Either way, homemade is definitely the way to go. I used to make a seriously indulgent cocoa/chocolate mix, but I haven’t done it in ages. We’ve been having such dismal weather here lately, it seems like a perfect time to try some of these recipes. I love cinnamon and chocolate together, but hot chocolate and orange appeals to me at the moment. Thank you for sharing!

  17. I am the biggest chocolate addict and I cant resist from a good cup of hot chocolate but I have never made my own at home and I have always wanted to try. These recipes look so easy and absolutely delicious, especially the white hot version! I have never tried white so I cant wait to make these with my daughter this week!

  18. I know it’s almost June, but these pictures really caught my eye, and I enjoy a cup of hot chocolate year round. Making things from scratch is something I enjoy, but I haven’t really found a good hot chocolate or hot cocoa recipe so far. I have tried other recipes in the past with varying results, so I think I’ll try out your recipes. I enjoy white chocolate as well, so that recipe will come in handy, since I know a few people who would really like it.

  19. The fact that every recipe here has milk makes me happy. I do not understand these people who use water unstead of milk. I find that it is nowhere near as good. I have tried to give it a chance but honestly I was no where near converted. Whipped cream is just the icing on the cake. I tend to be very boring with hot chocolate and just have the regular cream and sometimes splurge with a few marshmellows.

    However I love the idea of the caramel and also the nutella. Sometimes adding a little amaretto for somethiing with a little more of a kick 😉

  20. I just made the basic hot cocoa for my little brother and I, and he said it was the best he’s ever tasted! Thank you so much for the recipe. Usually I stick to the old hot water and instant hot cocoa mix, but it doesn’t quite taste authentic. This was absolutely perfect, although it probably would have been better during cold weather (does turning the air conditioning on count as cold weather?).

  21. I always add some chilli pepper. I like it spicy! Now, if I drink hot chocolate without chilli, it seems too sweet and bland to my taste.

  22. Hot chocolate is seriously my one true love, and all the ideas in here along with the pictures have given me the biggest craving ever. I’ve never had white before, but the recipe in here sounds tasty, especially with the vanilla extract. Gonna give that a try on one of the more chilly nights, since it is way too warm out recently to do now. One of my favorites of my own “hacks” is to use mint chocolates in it instead of regular. I love mint so it tastes heavenly. Another thing I like is adding some brandy into it to make it a “warmer” (opposite of a cooler, haha). And if I make a combination of the two it makes for the best treat in the world!

  23. Hot chocolate.. oh, dear hot chocolate! There’s no Christmas without one of my favorite drinks, well.. actually for me there is no life without hot chocolate. I drink it in every season, cold milk chocolate is also a god-send. I also love to give it a nice flavor, something like mint for example.

  24. All of these look so awesome. I didn’t know there were variations in hot chocolate. I must learn these and teach them to my kids. I love the peppermint, caramel extracts, and the sticks. Perfect time of year for it too, can’t wait to try.

  25. I totally love these recipes and hacks! I would like to try the basic version with whipped cream, salted caramel and baileys to drink with the family after Thanksgiving dinner this year. On my own time I would like to try the white chocolate version. I’m a die hard chocolate fan and the white version is simply a drink I need to try. I will be perfectly ready for the upcoming winter nights thanks to you. Wish me luck!

  26. This might be my favorite article from this blog so far. I absolutely adore hot chocolate and cocoa!

    I tend to not think too much when preparing some, since I usually do it when I’m really stressed during finals or midterms. but after reading this I really don’t know why I haven’t gone that extra mile before. I mean, is it really that difficult to add a dash of salt? I feel silly now.

    Anyway, another interesting addition to hot chocolate I have found is to add a dash of cayenne pepper in the mix, and if you have some oranges, a bit of zest as well. I guess it’s all a matter of experimenting and seeing what works best for you. Chocolate has been experimented with plenty, but there’s always room for innovation in our kitchens. Personally, it never occurred to me to add some nutella to hot chocolate, but now I can’t wait to test that out. What could possibly go wrong, right?

  27. I didn’t realize there was a difference between cocoa and chocolate. You learn something new everyday! I think it’s really weird that I’ve only been buying real hot chocolate in cafes, and resorting to cocoa powder when I make it on my own. Winter is coming, so I guess i better start trying out these recipes. Thanks for the ideas!

  28. Wow. This is interesting. I didn’t know that there is a distinction between hot chocolate and hot cocoa. That’s so nice of you to mention it. I like the part with the white version as well. I LOVE white chocolate and my husband loves cocoa so your recipes are a good treat for me. Thank you so much for sharing this. I can see the effort that you put in your blog. Good luck and more power to you! =)

  29. I love using chopped chocolate for my creations but out of laziness I always use cocoa powder. I think next time I make some I will try your recipe with the chopped pieces. I also usually make an Italian version too which is so thick you have to eat it with a spoon. Also I can’t wait to try the white hot chocolate. Every holiday my daughter feels a little left out because she is not a fan of chocolate but loves the white version. I am so glad to see a recipe for white variety and I will try it out this weekend. I think it will make her day.

  30. I swear, you just made me drool all over myself. I love chocolate so much it’s practically unhealthy. The thing though is I’ve never tried white chocolate before. I can’t recall seeing it in the supermarkets here. These recipes are definitely worth giving a try.

  31. Hot chocolate in winter is the best!! I never put vanilla in mine though so I guess I will have to try it with this new ingredient soon!:)

  32. Just came back to say the White Hot Chocolate was a winner. My daughter was so pleased to learn that it was indeed a thing lol. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  33. It’s winter, and I love a cup of hot chocolate during the holiday seasons. It just comforts me so much. I actually love cinnamon, but I haven’t thought to put some in mine, so thank you for that one!

  34. I was so excited to see this post. I am a lover of hot chocolate and hot cocoa. Thanks for explaining the difference. I drink this all year round so I am always looking for a spin to put on it. I’ve never tried vanilla so I will be adding that as an option to see if I like it.

    I love to get recipes together like this and provide just enough ingredients and a cute recipe card to people for the holidays. It’s always a joy to see someone appreciate something so simple.

  35. I’m looking forward to making this receipe. There’s nothing better then a delicious cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. The prepackaged ones you buy from the local supermarket just don’t have the same taste as the cocoa bought from a higher end sweet shop. However it can get expensive. I can’t wait to try some of these out to see how they compare.

  36. The white hot chocolate recipe has definitely piqued my interest, especially since I would prefer that over regular hot chocolate any day. I will definitely be trying this out this holiday season! Looks perfect for Christmas Eve with the kiddos!

  37. I love hot chocolate! I’m not a big coffee drinker so these are what keep me warm in the wintertime. Thanks for sharing! definitely going to try out the white chocolate one.

  38. The white hot chocolate looks so decadent and elegant. I can see myself serving this beside some shortbread cookies with some peppermint bark sprinkled on top for aesthetics. I’ve also never tried adding pepper but cayenne and chocolate sounds like a nice combo. It think it would pair even better with dark variety. Has anyone tried that? Looks like I’ll be experimenting in my kitchen today. Instead of nutmeg I think I’ll add some ground hazelnuts or maybe sweetened condensed milk. Your recipes always inspire me to make new things.

  39. Seems like the white hot chocolate is loved by most people in this forum. I guess i will have to try it out since i was finding it hard to select a perfect recipe to try. I really do not know what i would have done if i didn’t come across this forum.

  40. Wow , thanks Ashley, I’m personally more fond of the “white hot chocolate” because in all honesty, I do not enjoy the traditional brown chocolate, it irritates my tongue, so I’m always inclined to buy and munch on white chocolate. So I’m pretty glad you could whip up a recipe for me about white hot chocolate, so I’m pretty excited to have a taste of that indeed!

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