If you love hot chocolate and drink a lot of it, variety is the spice of life. Here are 30 ways to add oomph to your elixir. But first, some background notes:
There is a difference between cocoa and hot chocolate. Cocoa is made from cocoa powder, and hot chocolate is made from shaved chocolate bars. Hot chocolate is richer because chocolate bars have a higher cocoa butter content than cocoa powders. However, much depends on what you mix with the chocolate or cocoa powder. Cocoa powder mixed with milk can achieve the richness of chocolate shavings mixed with water. There is no right or wrong: it’s the recipe you prefer.
To make true hot chocolate, you can buy hot chocolate mixes made of tiny chocolate shavings; you can buy fine shaved chocolate from baking suppliers (much less expensive, since mixes tend to be $12 to $25 for 12 ounces); or you can shave your own from your favorite chocolate bars. The bars can be dark, milk, white or flavored chocolate—or you can blend them. If you go the bar route, look beyond the cheapest chocolate bars: the better quality the bar, the better quality the hot chocolate. You’re better off with a good cocoa powder than an inexpensive chocolate bar, which can have a relatively low cocoa content.
After you’ve made your basic cup, what can you do with it? Follow these ideas, and you can have a different hot chocolate experience almost every day of the month.
Regardless of what the recipe calls for, use milk instead of water—and use whole milk. If you’re on a lowfat diet and need to use fat-free milk, buy the ultrapasteurized version: it tastes like 2% milk but doesn’t have the added fat.
Half and half photo courtesy Organic Valley.
Super-Rich Hot Chocolate
If you want super-rich hot chocolate, don’t use half and half—it’s too heavy. The secret is to add a teaspoon or more of sweet butter to each cup before you pour in the hot chocolate. The butter turns average cocoa into a really good cup, and great cocoa or hot chocolate into a memorable experience.
Those luxury hot chocolates that can cost $25 a box or tin are simply chopped up bits of fine chocolate bars. You can chop up your own bar and combine one ounce (3 tablespoons) of chopped chocolate with one ounce of whole milk in a mug. Microwave for 30 seconds, and stir thoroughly. Add another six ounces of milk, stir, and heat for another 60 seconds. You can use any chocolate: dark, milk or white. Flavored bars work, too; or add a dash of cinnamon, anise, nutmeg and chili powder for “Aztec” hot chocolate. You can use chocolate morsels, but the key is: the finer the chocolate, the more delicious the drink. For a richer beverage, you don’t need to use cream: the secret is to add a teaspoon of sweet butter to the milk before you heat it. Note: don’t make this with 2% or fat-free milk: the purpose is to enjoy a sumptuous beverage. If you’re cutting back, the fat-free single-serve commercial cocoas like Nestle and Swiss Miss are best.
Photo courtesy of La Chocolate | Australia.
Ice Cream Hot Chocolate Float
Add ice cream to your cup of hot chocolate. Here’s a recipe for from Reddi-Wip; if you don’t want the coffee flavor, just substitute 3/4 cup hot chocolate.
Ingredients Per Drink
3/4 cup hot strong brewed coffee
1 envelope instant hot cocoa mix
1/2 cup (1 large scoop) vanilla premium ice cream
Optional: 2 tablespoons coffee-
flavored liqueur or chocolate liqueur
Combine hot coffee and cocoa mix in small bowl until well blended; set aside.
Place ice cream in glass; pour hot coffee mixture over ice cream. Top with a serving of Reddi-wip. Serve immediately.
A “hot chocolate float:” just add ice cream and whipped cream. Photo courtesy Reddi-Wip.