When I was in high school, there was a little student-run coffee shop in the cafeteria that was open during my free period. Hot chocolate was my go-to substance for stress relief and an energy boost (I’ve never liked the taste of coffee) so I made use of the shop frequently. I drank hot chocolate so frequently that I found out the staff started making bets on whether or not I would order one that day. I ordered a chai latte instead to throw them off.
Green & Black’s cocoa powder used to be my go-to ingredient for Kella’s Special Hot Chocolate, but I was later diagnosed with celiac’s disease, and even something manufactured in a facility with wheat, like Green & Black’s products, was off limits to me.
I experimented with different instant cocoa mixes, but they never quite tasted right, and I found it unnerving that just hot water mixed with a powder could create that kind of texture.
Hot Cocoa Heaven
In the next town over, there used to be an incredible place called Rosie’s Tea House. They served a traditional style high tea including tiny sandwiches, rich soup, mini cheesecakes, and a perfectly brewed pot of tea per person. During one visit there, my friend ordered hot chocolate instead of tea. They brought her an entire teapot of hot chocolate, which she offered to share with me. What followed was the most delicious, most easy to drink hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted in my life.
Ever since, I’ve been determined to replicate that taste and texture. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach hot cocoa nirvana again, but this recipe is so easy, tasty, and customizable that it does the job just fine. No mixes, no stove top, no fancy ingredients required. And I even developed a special mixing technique that avoids all those undissolvable lumps of cocoa powder!
Perfect for chilly weather, here's an easy-to-make delicious recipe for hot chocolate, including suggestions for how to keep this simple classic fun and interesting
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 ¼ tsp cocoa powder
- 8 oz milk (I prefer 2% but use whatever you like)
- ¼ tsp of vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp of other flavors of your choice optional
- Toppings of your choice optional
- A large microwave-safe mug
- A fork
- A microwave
Measure your sugar and cocoa powder into the mug. Use a fork to combine the two, eliminating any clumps of cocoa powder.
Pour a very small splash of milk into the sugar/cocoa mixture. Mix together with your fork until it forms a smooth, brown paste. Make sure to incorporate all the cocoa powder so that there are no dry crumbles left around the edges.
Pour a little more milk in, and mix again until the texture is consistent. Slowly pour in the remaining milk and mix one more time.
Microwave for 1 minute. (You’ll want to reduce this time if you have a powerful microwave. The mixture should be warm but not hot after the first nuking session).
Take the mixture out, pour in your vanilla and/or other flavors, and mix. I don’t actually measure the vanilla, I just pour a little into the cap, and carefully add a few drops to the mug.
Return mug to the microwave and heat for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Check temperature by taking a taste, and add an additional 20-30 seconds if needed.
Tip: DO NOT USE SPECIAL DARK COCOA POWDER or other Dutch processed cocoas. This extra dark and rich ingredient is incredible in baked goods but doesn’t dissolve properly in milk, and your drink will come out grainy.
Possible flavors to try:
- Peppermint extract- This makes ordinary cocoa instantly taste like something special from Dutch Brothers! You only need a tiny bit. ¼ tsp is plenty.
- Candy Cane- For a similar effect as the peppermint extract that’s loads cheaper and comes with built-in holiday flare, stir your hot chocolate with a candy cane. The peppermint candy will melt and gradually infuse the drink with its flavor.
- Almond extract- Just ½ tsp of this will make for a really lovely, rich and indulgent drink.
- Bailey’s Irish Cream- For an adult version, add about a shot’s worth of the original or the Hazelnut flavor. It will make you feel warm and cozy all the way down to your toes.
- Marshmallows- These are obviously the classic choice. I find marshmallows taste the best if you place them on top of your cocoa, and then place the mug back in the microwave for another 20-30 seconds so that the marshmallows are nice and gooey.
- Mini Marshmallows- A playful alternative with a similar effect!
- Whipped Cream- Freshly made or sprayed out of a can. Either is light, fluffy, and delicious.
- Sprinkles- Perfect way to add a fun visual theme to your treat.
- Salted Caramel- *Drools* Do I need to explain this one?
- Cool Whip- MY PERSONAL FAVORITE! A big scoop of Cool Whip that’s been kept in the freezer will melt slowly and turn into foam. As you take your first sip, you’ll taste the cold creamy topping contrasting with the hot rich chocolate. It’s simply the best.
Mix and match your favorite combos. The possibilities are endless once you have the basic hot chocolate down! Let me know your flavor and toppings suggestions in the comments below.