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An Adventure in Hot Chocolate

photo_23071_20130122Well, the fall and winter will be here before you know it, as are many days (and nights) of cold, rain, snow, ice and wind.  Thanks to a trunk load of firewood we got this weekend – courtesy of my dad – our fireplace is at the ready, waiting to be called into action. What better companion to a warm fire on a cold night than a steamy, yummy, sweet, decadent mug of hot chocolate? Say no more! Time to set up a super amazing hot chocolate bar and start the season’s many variations of cocoa yumminess.

Start with your favorite hot chocolate.  While a package from a box will do in a pinch, there’s no comparison to homemade.  Here are a couple of our very simple, tried-and-true recipes.


The first is from Giada de Laurentiis:

Basic Hot Chocolate

4 servings

  • 4 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot.


Alton Brown’s Powdered Hot Chocolate Mix

Makes about 5 ½ cups

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • Hot water

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. This makes a dry mix to add to hot water or milk, 1:1.  Fill your mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water or milk. Stir to combine. Seal the rest in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry.


Now for the best part!  Pull out the goodies, mix-ins, decorations, and yummy stuff. Lay ‘em out and dive in! Here’s our list to get you started.

Mini-marshmallows, of course!

Crushed pepperminthot chocolate

Chocolate/white/butterscotch chips

Cinnamon candies – crushed

Flavored marshmallows (coconut, peppermint, peanut butter, etc)

Crumbled toffee bar pieces

Peanut Butter

M & M’s


Cayenne (yes!)

Whipped cream – freeze in dollops to have on hand whenever the mood strikes (thanks, Creative Mama! http://thecreativemama.com/frozen-whipped-cream-dollops/ )



Caramel ice cream topping

Flavored syrups – vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, hazelnut, espresso, raspberry

And, some grown-up additions:

Liqueurs – Kahlua, Baileys, Peppermint schnapps

Meyers Dark Rum, Wild Turkey, Whipped or Fluffed Vodka


A couple of tips we’ve found helpful:

Having a group of friends over or a family gathering? Make larger quantities of hot chocolate in a crock pot.

  • Any kind of milk will do – cow, almond, soy, coconut, whatever you like.
  • Use peppermint sticks as stirrers.
  • Don’t forget the cookies!

Enjoy and stay warm this winter! Doesn’t get cold where you live? Turn your hot chocolate creations into popsicles!