There is nothing better than a decadent homemade hot chocolate to keep you cozy and warm this winter. This simple guide will make sure you make the best hot chocolate every time.
There is nothing I love more than keeping warm with hot chocolate. When I was living in London, there was a chocolate bar… it was a cafe that focused on all things chocolate, not just a bar of chocolate. And I would go there with my friends to enjoy their chocolate martinis and on colder days, hot chocolate.
It was so good, it was basically like drinking straight melted chocolate with some cream. Now that I think back on it, that’s probably exactly what it was. I spent a lot of time trying to emulate that hot chocolate by making something just as thick and chocolaty.
I used the base to make a lot of my hot chocolate recipes on this site such as this bourbon hot chocolate, this Black Forest hot chocolate, and this spicy hot chocolate. Now, I wanted to give you a guide to making the perfect hot chocolate tailored to what your personal preferences are. Too thick? Skip the cornstarch. Prefer something sweeter and not as chocolaty? Use milk chocolate and maybe up the sugar.
Making the Perfect Hot Chocolate: The Cocoa Powder
There are two main types of cocoa powder I recommend using for your homemade hot chocolate: natural, and Dutch-processed.
Without going into too much detail, Dutch-processed cocoa powder has a smoother, more mellow, deep chocolate flavor, whereas the natural cocoa powder gives a lighter, almost sharper taste.
I prefer a deeper chocolate flavor, so I will often go for Dutch-processed. If you are someone who typically goes toward milk chocolate and smaller percentages of cocoa in your chocolate bars, the natural cocoa powder would be a better choice!
Making the Perfect Hot Chocolate: The Chocolate
The type of chocolate you use is entirely dependent on what your preference is. If you like milk chocolate, then go for it! Just remember that milk chocolate is sweeter than darker chocolate, so you will need less sugar. If you like dark chocolate, you can use the amount of sugar I use in my recipe, but if you prefer something less sweet, adjust that to your taste. Personally, I use a mix of both milk and dark chocolate.
You can also use semi-sweet chocolate. If you don’t have chocolate bars, chocolate chips you might have leftover from making chocolate chip cookies,
Making the Perfect Hot Chocolate: The Sugar
You can use granulated or light/dark brown sugar in your homemade hot chocolate, but please don’t feel limited to just that! Coconut sugar, stevia. simple syrup (unflavored or flavored), are all good sweetener options. If you use an alternative to granulated and brown sugar, you will need to adjust the amount you put in your hot chocolate to adjust for how sweet each alternative is.
I like granulated sugar because it imparts a neutral sweetness to the chocolate drink. Brown sugar is another favorite because it adds warmth and a light molasses flavor.
The Sort-of Optional Add-ins
There are two ingredients that you can add to your homemade hot chocolate. I like to think they are necessary, but you may disagree.
Cornstarch is great because it makes your hot chocolate thick and velvety. If you aren’t into that, you are free to omit it entirely and it won’t affect the end taste of your hot chocolate.
Salt is basically an essential ingredient because it helps make all the flavors in your hot chocolate pop. It makes the chocolate taste more like chocolate and rounds out the sweetness.
This is all going to depend on your dietary and taste preferences.
When talking about dairy, the higher the fat, the more creamy and velvety the hot chocolate will be. It will give the drink its signature decadence. Sometimes I recommend replacing a bit of the milk with a splash of cream.
If you drink milk alternatives like almond, cashew, oat, etc. I recommend opting for the unsweetened versions. If you don’t have that available, cut back on the amount of sugar you add. Remember, you can add more sweetness, but you can’t take it away.
Homemade Hot Chocolate: The Extras
Now is where you can get super creative and turn your hot chocolate into just about anything. Add in other flavors and spices to mix things up. I love taking out the sugar and replacing it with a flavored syrup or adding coffee. Chai spices are also really great to add to your drink. Top your hot chocolate with whipped cream (don’t forget you can flavor your whipped cream too!) or add in all the marshmallows you heart desires. Personally, I love adding something cool like strawberry marshmallows.
What’s the Difference Between Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate?
In the simplest terms, they are practically the same. They are both hot drinks with chocolate. The differences between them are subtle in that hot cocoa is usually made with cocoa powder, milk, and sweetener whereas hot chocolate uses melted chocolate. This recipe happens to use both for a deliciously decadent chocolate flavor.
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- In your saucepan, off the heat, mix together the cornstarch and the cocoa powder.
- Stir in just a couple of tablespoons of the milk and mix until the mixture forms a thick paste and there are no clumps.
- Stir constantly as you drizzle in the remaining milk.
- Turn on the heat to medium and stir in the sugar, salt, and chocolate.
- Continue stirring until the mixture is hot and almost, but not quite rumbling.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Top with whipped cream or other preferred toppings.
Please read the above post for suggestions for substitutions.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 320 Total Fat: 22g Saturated Fat: 13g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 20mg Sodium: 365mg Carbohydrates: 61g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 38g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 12g