Remember these Mickey & Minnie mugs I picked up at Walmart a couple of weeks ago? Well today we're talking about hot chocolate/cocoa or cafe au Chocolat to the French, to enjoy in them.
First hot chocolate vs hot cocoa. Most of us have grown up drinking hot cocoa, which is the powder which is mixed with liquid. Hot chocolate uses ground chocolate pieces which still includes the cocoa butter. Obviously, hot chocolate is much richer and higher in fat, and more expensive.
Let's take a look at hot cocoa, my mugs came with Nestle instant cocoa, which I remember drinking as a little girl. As much as I loved it back then, it can definitely be improved upon.
My first recommendation is use MILK!! It doesn't matter which cocoa mix you use, it will taste SO much better with milk, and not skim milk, fat is important here. The higher the fat content, the more rich and creamy the hot cocoa (if you are worried about calories, use a smaller mug). My personal preference is whole milk, although I do occasionally use skim milk with a large splash of cream (the real stuff). To really up the WOW factor check out my add ins later in this post!
Here are a few of my favorites:
Cold Stone Creamery (they have a light version)
Hershey's Goodnights (these are caffeine free)
Ghiardelli Double Chocolate
Hot chocolate is rich and decadent, very different from the cocoa you have been drinking all of your life. In some parts of the world it can be very thick, almost the consistency of a melted chocolate bar, which for me personally isn't very appetizing. There is a happy medium though, here is a good recipe to try:
- 4 cups whole milk
- 4 oz. milk chocolate
- 4 oz. dark chocolate (60% cacao or greater)
- 3 tsp. powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Finely chop chocolate, remember you want the pieces small enough to easily melt.
- In a heavy bottom pan, simmer the milk over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Remove milk from stove.
- Immediately add vanilla, powdered sugar, salt and chocolate to milk and wish until all chocolate has melted.
- Return to low heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Garnish and Enjoy!!
Add ins are a great way to personalize your hot chocolate/cocoa. Here is a list of favorites:
Marshmallows (don't forget the flavored ones)
Pumpkin Pie Spice
For Adults Only:
Bailey's Irish Creme
If you are hosting a Christmas party, how about having a Hot Cocoa Bar.
Chocolate Dipped Spoons
Crushed Peppermint Candies
Chopped Ande's Mints
Chopped Heath Bars
Have fun with your hot cocoa/hot chocolate and forget about fat and calories as you enjoy a mug. Be sure to let us know what your favorite add ins are, or share your favorite recipe with everyone.