Chocolate, in all its forms, is probably my favorite thing in the whole world.
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.
Basic Hot Cocoa
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.
Basic Hot Chocolate
The winter solstice is upon us, and we all know that wintertime is prime hot chocolate 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.
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.
Basic White Hot Chocolate
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.
And what better way to top of these warm and creamy drinks with some fluffy homemade marshmallows?
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!
For more hot chocolate recipes, you’ll bring a smile to everyone at the table with these favorites:
Photo credit: Shutterstock.
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.