Peppermint hot cocoa
Hot chocolate just might be the best part of winter. It's decadent and delicious, and it warms you up faster than a Snuggie straight out of the dryer. Who would turn down chocolate, arguably one of the best creations known to man, when it's melted down to a thick, rich liquid and topped with mini marshmallows and a dollop of whipped cream? What's more (yes, there's more!), hot chocolate accoutrements hardly end there-think cayenne pepper, pumpkin purée, and even Fluffernutter. If you're craving a steaming cup of cocoa this season, go beyond the usual mix of instant powder or chocolate syrup and water. There's a wide world of hot chocolate recipes like these just waiting to be tried, tasted, and treasured.
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Spiced Hot Chocolate
Today we think of hot chocolate as being sweet, but the ancient Mayan people's original version included hearty spices. They may sound odd in theory, but they blend beautifully with chocolate in execution. (Recipe source: WholeLiving.com)
1 quart milk (dairy or non-dairy)
6 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and whisk over medium-low heat until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is steaming hot, about five minutes. Serves four.
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Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate
Whereas the previous recipe subdues hot chocolate's usual sweetness, this one takes it to a whole new level, thanks to its use of white chocolate. Pumpkin and a touch of nutmeg and vanilla give it an extra spicy-and fragrant-kick. (Recipe source: Goodlifeeats.com)
4 to 5 cups whole milk
12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
4 teaspoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
In a heavy saucepan, combine two cups of milk, white chocolate, and cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat, whisking periodically, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well combined. Whisk in the pumpkin purée, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, and ginger. Add the remaining milk, one cup at a time, until your ideal consistency is reached. If desired, serve topped with whipped cream and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Serves four to six.
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Fluffernutter Hot Cocoa
Adults who grew up eating peanut butter-and-marshmallow fluff sandwiches will especially appreciate this unique chocolate concoction. (Recipe source: Seattle Times)
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup Fluff (marshmallow sandwich spread), plus extra for topping
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter chips
In a small saucepan over medium, heat the milk until it's hot but not boiling. Whisk in the Fluff, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips. Whisk until completely melted and smooth. To serve, top with additional Fluff. Serves one.
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Italian Hot Chocolate
Also known as cioccolato caldo, this version of hot chocolate is much thicker than what we're used to in the United States. You can actually eat it with a spoon! Be sure to use high-quality chocolate; it'll be worth the extra price. (Recipe source: What's Cooking America)
5 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 ounces dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao solids), finely chopped
2 cups milk
In a small saucepan, add the cocoa powder, sugar, and two tablespoons of the milk. Heat over low heat until the sugar melts and no lumps remain, stirring well. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly; add the remaining milk. Turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Serves two.
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Seventh Heaven Hot Chocolate
This one's for adults only; it also lends itself to dairy-free substitutions for twenty-one-and-over vegans. According to the author, the drink will take you "to seventh heaven." It'll also give you a nice, toasty buzz. (Recipe source: DivineCaroline)
3 cups unsweetened chocolate almond milk
3 cups sweetened chocolate almond milk
1/2 cup Bailey's Irish Cream or Frangelico
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
Heat almond milk and spices in a pot until they're hot, but not boiling. Add Bailey's and Grand Marnier. Note that you can use all sweetened or all unsweetened almond milk. Serves four to six.
See more tasty hot chocolate recipes!
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Peppermint hot cocoa
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My after-school snack was a sacred ritual. I sat on the carpet in my parents' bedroom at a low table, the television turned to "I Dream of Jeannie," and ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich cut into neat squares. I wasn't fussy about crusts. I just loved the sticky pairing of creamy peanut butter with syrupy golden sweetness drizzled from a honey bear in diagonals across the soft white bread. Nothing else--save for maybe apples and peanut butter in a pinch--could have made for as sweet an