Even though it’s still officially fall for another ten days, winter has arrived in most parts of Canada. We finally got our first snowfall and the temperature has plunged. As soon as the weather turns cold, I start to crave hot chocolate. I’ve tried all of the big coffee chains and a few independent places but nothing quite suits my tastes. I prefer a cocoa that is dark and chocolaty but not too thick. I find most coffee shop hot chocolates tend to be too sweet, too milky or too artificial tasting. The logical solution to this quandry? Make my own!
It’s very easy to whip up some homemade hot chocolate and you can adjust it to suit your taste. If you prefer it thicker, use some cream or evaporated milk. Prefer it sweet? Add more sugar. You can also add flavourings or liqueur to your cocoa to dress it up (see below).
The key to good hot chocolate is to use a good quality cocoa powder. I use a mix of Valrhona 100% Cacao Gastronomie and plain old Fry’s Premium Cocoa which can be purchased at any grocery store (the Valrhona is a little intense by itself). Scharffen Bergen, Green & Black’s, Droste and Callebaut are other popular brands. Top your cocoa off with a marshmallow or dollop or whipped cream or try one of the variations below. If you’re interested in a bit of history, you can read about France’s King Louis XV’s love of hot chocolate, which he would sometimes prepare for himself: Chocolate at Versailles – Louis XV’s Favourite Drink.
Homemade Hot Chocolate
Makes 2 large mugs of cocoa
- 5 Tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
- 5 Tablespoons sugar
- 3 cups milk – low fat or whole
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- In a mug or glass measuring cup, add cocoa powder and sugar. Pour in ½ cup of the milk and use a fork to whisk the ingredients together until smooth.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 2-1/2 cups of milk on medium-high heat. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt. Heat milk until barely simmering – do not bring to a hard boil.
- Pour cocoa mixture into the warm milk and whisk to combine. Heat mixture until hot and serve. Top with a dollop of whipped cream or marshmallows. Or try one of the variations below:
Variations (for adults only!):
Irish Hot Chocolate – Add a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream to each mug of hot chocolate
Mexican Hot Chocolate – Add ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons Kahlua to the hot chocolate. Add a dash of cayenne pepper if you really want to spice it up!
Mint Hot Chocolate – Add ½ teaspoon mint extract or 2 Tablespoons of crème de menthe. Garnish with a candy cane.
Chocolate-Orange – Add a shot of Grand Marnier to each hot chocolate. Garnish with a candied orange peel.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!