I grew up on watered down hot cocoa packets. At the time, I didn’t know any better and I absolutely adored them. Especially when I made them with milk and marshmallows, and had them after a long afternoon playing out in the snow. I remember coming inside, all my winter gear soaking wet, stripping it off and then curling up on top of the heating vent with some hot cocoa : ) Good times. But now I know enough to realize that there are better, more flavorful options out there.
I’ve made hot chocolate before using chopped chocolate and various other ingredients. Actually, now that I think about it, I think it was this exact recipe from Food Network Magazine. It was good, albeit quite sweet. It used a combination of cocoa powder, chopped chocolate, sugar, and milk. This recipe here is quite different. It uses substantially less sugar and ONLY cocoa powder. Not to mention a clever little ingredient to trick your mouth into thinking this drink is lusciously decadent with cream- cornstarch. How very smart! It thickens the cocoa up beautifully while adding that great mouthfeel that lends you to believe in its’ richness. I am a serious fan. Not to mention how it was only lightly sweetened. I really liked that quality about it myself. I find that some recipes have more sweet-sugary-ness to them rather than chocolate flavor.
BUT! Although I can’t say enough about how great I thought the consistency of this hot chocolate was, it was lacking a bit in chocolate flavor. It uses a mere 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Not very much at all. So to really get the biggest bang for your buck with flavor here, you are going to want to use a high-quality dark cocoa powder like Valrhona. Something dutch-processed. Hershey’s will leave you wanting in the chocolate flavor department with this recipe. It’ll work, you just might find the flavor weak is all. You can always try to add some finely chopped bittersweet chocolate too. I can’t guarantee anything with that though- sometimes chocolate doesn’t incorporate well into beverages and almost remains separated or grainy.
Personally though, this is it for me. I have found my GO-TO Hot Chocolate recipe! Simple and quick. Not overly-indulgently rich with cream and chocolate. Perfect with marshmallows, whipped cream, or even plain. LOVE it.
Here are a couple of serving options that vary outside of your everyday hot chocolate:
- Flavor the drink with 1/4 – 1/2 tsp peppermint extract! But, of course, also add the vanilla.
- Spike it with a splash of your favorite liquor- kahlua, baileys, etc.
- Stir in some salted caramel sauce : ) Should you be lucky enough to have some lying around…
- Top the drink with some whipped coconut milk instead of cream!
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch ground cinnamon, optional
- In a saucepan, combine the milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla and warm up over a low heat.
- Combine the cocoa powder, sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in another bowl. Whisk the cocoa mixture into the warm milk mixture. Whisk the mixture frequently to prevent it from scorching.
- Remove the mixture from the heat just after it has come to a boil. The mixture should be suuuuuper rich and thick!
adapted from Anne Burrell via Food Network