Looking to up your hot chocolate game? Check out these recipes and learn how to make homemade hot chocolate that's the best you've ever had!
One of my favorite cold weather treats is hot chocolate. It makes me feel all warm and cozy inside, it tastes delicious, and it brings me right back to my childhood.
I’m not picky when it comes to hot chocolate; give me a packet of store bought hot cocoa mix and I’m perfectly content. But nothing tops a luxurious mug of homemade hot chocolate with all the bells and whistles!
The History of Hot Chocolate
Drinking chocolate started several thousand years ago in Central America. The Olmec, Maya, and Aztec peoples mixed crushed cacao beans with water and spices. Their drinking chocolate was probably not served hot or sweetened.
Chocolate eventually made its way to Europe through Spanish conquistadors. In Spain, the beverage started being mixed with sugar and served warm--two steps closer to the hot chocolate we know and love today.
From Spain, drinking chocolate spread to other parts of Europe, particularly among wealthy and aristocratic people. Shops serving drinking chocolate began popping up in cities across the European continent as hot chocolate gained in popularity.
Just before the American Revolution, chocolate was introduced to the American Colonies and quickly became a favorite beverage. Thomas Jefferson even mentioned it in a letter he wrote to John Adams!
In the 1800s, chocolate bars were invented and people started eating chocolate more than drinking it. But a cozy mug of hot chocolate to sip on when you’re chilly will never go out of style!
What is Mexican Hot Chocolate
Authentic Mexican hot chocolate is made by mixing Mexican chocolate, which contains ground cacao nibs, sugar, and spices like cinnamon, with hot milk. You can buy Mexican hot chocolate disks or bars at most large grocery stores and at Latin markets.
Another key to making authentic Mexican hot chocolate is to use a molinillo to whisk it. Molinillos are long wooden utensils used for frothing Mexican hot chocolate by hand.
Variations of Homemade Hot Chocolate
There are as many ways to make homemade hot chocolate as there are leaves on a tree–and they’re all delicious!
Once while we were on vacation, my husband found a little hot chocolate cookbook at a seaside kitchen store. It had dozens of different hot chocolate recipes in it.
He bought the book and started working his way through every page. There were recipes with cocoa powder, recipes with spices, recipes with heavy cream, recipes with melted chocolate bars, and more.
Every batch we tried was delicious. Whether you use cream or milk, cocoa powder or melted chocolate or chocolate milk, you just can’t go wrong with homemade hot chocolate!
For extra fancy occasions, or when you just want to try something new, try these delicious homemade hot chocolate variations:
- Salted Vanilla Hot Chocolate: Made with cocoa powder, a pinch of sea salt, and a heaping dose of smooth vanilla
- Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate: Milk and basic pantry staples like sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips
- Boozy Slow Cooker Peppermint Hot Chocolate: An adult version adds peppermint schnapps to each mug just before serving, but there’s a kid-friendly version too.
- Nutella Hot Chocolate: Made with Nutella and warm spices
- Gingerbread Hot Chocolate: Sweetened with brown sugar and flavored with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, plus a secret ingredient
- White Chocolate Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa: Lightly spiced and sweetened, this one is for all you white chocolate lovers out there!
How to Make the Best Homemade Hot Chocolate
I said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not even a little picky when it comes to hot chocolate! That’s not to say I don’t demand that it’s delicious, but I happen to think most hot chocolates are pretty tasty.
But here are a few of my go-to tips for making the best homemade hot chocolate at home:
- Don’t use anything less than whole milk. Whole milk will produce a rich, creamy hot chocolate, and half-and-half and heavy cream can be swapped in for at least part of the milk as you see fit. But don’t make your hot chocolate with water or even skim milk. This is especially true if you enjoy powdered hot cocoa mixes from the grocery store. They, too, will taste better made with whole milk.
- Use high quality chocolate. Whether your recipe calls for cocoa powder, chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate bars, only use the good stuff. Better ingredients make a better end-product.
- Experiment with flavors, toppings, and add-ins. Give me all the whipped cream, crushed candy canes, and flavored marshmallows!
- Make sure to mix it up really well. An electric drink frother is an inexpensive and easy way to get the very best, most frothy and fantastic winter beverages.
Below you'll find my favorite homemade hot chocolate recipe! It is easy to make and tastes rich and delicious. You can play with the proportions of dark and milk chocolate, but keep the total amount of chopped chocolate at 7 ounces.
This is a great go-to hot chocolate recipe that you'll come back to again and again, year after year.
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