It’s cold outside, snow is falling, carolers are caroling, well not here in on the sub-tropical island where I currently live, but I’m going to pretend I’m at home in the United States.
Even if the lowest temperature here is only like 59 degrees I still enjoy hot chocolate in the cooler months.
There are options for hot chocolate in the store: Swiss Miss, and a few other gourmet types of hot chocolate, but that is about as far as customization goes.
Making your own hot chocolate isn’t hard. You need several basic ingredients:
- milk 1 C (any percent you like)
- cocoa powder 2TBSP (any brand you like)
- sugar 2TBSP (or an appropriate substitute, I will get to that later)
- vanilla- to taste(but this can be optional depending on how you are customizing your cocoa)
- dash of salt
The basic preparation goes as such, and this will differ from what a box of cocoa powder tells you:
- Heat milk in a pot. Heat it until you can see little bubbles around the edge or you can seem steam coming off of it from a few feet away. Why not microwave it? Well you can, but I like the stove method(microwave about 2 minutes).
- Mix your sugar and cocoa powder and salt in a bowl.
- Pour heated milk down over your dry ingredients and stir.
- Put a small holed strainer or cheesecloth over your empty pot and pour hot cocoa back in. This is to strain out all those big bits that always get in there when you are mixing cocoa. You can also try to break up the large chunks by sifting your dry mixture or mixing it with a fork for a little bit.
- This is where the customization comes in.
- For regular old hot cocoa, add vanilla to taste.
- Mint flavored: Add peppermint extract to taste.
- You can also add almond extract or any other extracts you might like.
- Cruise the coffee aisle, even if you don’t drink coffee, you can find flavored syrups to add to your hot cocoa. Hazelnut and caramel are two of the flavors you can find.
- Check out flavored creamers, you can also add these to your hot chocolate.
- Add real chocolate, yes, get some candy bars you have lying around or add some chocolate chips, whatever darkness you prefer. This is why you put the cocoa back in the pot. You can melt the chocolate back into your hot cocoa, just put in on medium low and stir it every little bit to melt the chocolate thoroughly. You could also add white chocolate.
- Add some whip cream on top. No, not cool whip, but real whip cream.
- Another interesting idea would be to pour some hot chocolate down over some vanilla ice cream in a mug.
- You could put chocolate shavings on top of your hot cocoa.
- Put some real maple syrup in it for maple-flavored hot cocoa.
- Add cinnamon or cloves into it for a different flavor.
Ok so you can use sugar and hands down sugar is going to taste the best but you can use other sweeteners as well if you are worried about your body’s sugar levels.
Stevia: You can buy this in almost any store now, online, or at a health food store. It’s zero calorie and has no effect on blood sugar levels. It has a bit of an aftertaste, but not enough to deter consumption.
Fructose or fruit sugar. I’m not sure if this is something you can get in wal-mart, but most likely at a health food store. I currently buy mine from the “international” row at my commissary. This type of sugar doesn’t effect your body the same way other sugars do. It still has calories, but you don’t have to use as much of it.
There are several other sugar substitutes you can use, but I haven’t tried them all.
You can also use honey in the place of the white sugar. It’s still going to have calories, but if you’re low on sugar and have honey, you can use the honey.