It’s the middle of December and the weather outside (at least in the Northeast) has been far from frightful. Actually, the weekend was downright spring-ish. But unseasonably warm weather or no, who can resist delicious hot chocolate recipes, especially during this merry and bright time of year?
Before we get into the recipes, there’s something that we should get clear: Hot chocolate and hot cocoa are not the same thing. Yes, they’re both chocolatey and delicious, but that’s where the similarities end. Hot chocolate is made from hot milk mixed with ground or shaved chocolate that contains cocoa butter. Hot cocoa, on the other hand, is made from mixing cocoa powder with hot water or milk. Thanks to the fat content in the cocoa butter, hot chocolate is smoother and way richer than hot cocoa.
Since I want to make sure that you experience both kinds of hot chocolatey goodness, I’ve rounded up 3 stellar recipes from each camp, plus a bonus frozen version. Yum!
It’s thick, rich, and oh-so good. And no wonder: This creation comes from James Beard award-winning pastry chef and renowned chocolate master Jacques Torres, who shared his famous recipe for Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream (above & top) at BuzzFeed. It involves using corn starch, which may cause some folks to pause, but listen… they don’t call the man Mr. Chocolate for nothin’. Use the corn starch!
This Nutella Hot Chocolate recipe at Pepper has just 3 ingredients (2 if you skip the marshmallows), but it will make a chilly day warm and wonderful in an instant. It’s the added hazelnut flavor that makes this cuppa so special.
Jamie Oliver’s version, which he calls the best hot chocolate, takes about 4 minutes to make. Easy enough, though it involves a little handy work by adding warm milk to a jug, covering it, and shaking it like a Polaroid picture super hard for a minute. The result is a heavenly, frothy cup of chocolate love worth every single minute.
Related: 9 creative hot chocolate recipes.
The tutorial on how to make homemade hot cocoa at Momables uses both milk and hot water, plus a dash of salt to give you a simple but tasty treat for the cold days ahead. Add a cinnamon stick if you want to get fancy with it.
Mr. Good Eats himself has a fab take on hot cocoa. Alton Brown’s hot cocoa recipe calls for powdered milk and, like the hot chocolate from Jacques Torres, corn starch. Though I realize that you may not have these handy in your pantry, I trust Alton. Plus, he suggests a pinch (or two!) of cayenne pepper to give your cocoa a kick. So check the ingredients list and stock up!
For the days when you want to take care of just yourself (for a change), Epicurious has a recipe for Simple Hot Cocoa For One. The name tells you everything you need to know. Plus, I like that it works with any kind of milk, from cow to nut and beyond. The recipe also offers quite a few suggestions for sweeteners if you’re trying to cut back on white sugar.
Given how warm it’s been and the fact that some of you live where it’s perpetually warm (we’re definitely jealous), it seems wrong to leave out this delectable Frozen Hot Chocolate at Smitten Kitchen. Deb says that it took her 15 years to perfect this lightly sweetened milkshake inspired by the famous one at NYC’s Serendipity 3 (not in the way you might think), and it shows. I’ll take two, please!