Famous pastry chef Dominique Ansel recently put all of our hot chocolates to shame with his wildly creative and totally gorgeous blooming marshmallow flower hot chocolate, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up completely. Real, homemade hot chocolate is not only better for you than those just-add-water packets, but it’s also just as easy to make. And way less embarrassing now that someone (looking at you, Dominique) has raised the bar so high.
Here’s how to make seriously delicious hot chocolate — the real deal! — in five minutes without a recipe. Grab whatever chocolate you have in the cupboard and some milk and let’s show Dominique or, uh, at least the kids, what we’re made of.
1. Get some milk. I use about 1 cup per serving. I think that hot chocolate made with 2% milk is just as satisfying as a cup made with whole milk, but definitely skip skim. If you don’t drink cow milk, goat milk works well, as do most plant-based milks.
2. Grab some chocolate. Real chocolate of any variety: chocolate chips, that last bit of Hershey’s bar you’ve been hiding from the kids, leftover mini chocolate bars from the kids’ Halloween haul (because, really, it’s time now), a block of semi-sweet baking chocolate that you haven’t used in years. Even white chocolate works.
3. If using chocolate from a bar, chop it up. I use about 1 to 1 1/2 ounces of chocolate per serving which, all chopped up, comes to a scant 1/3 cup. If using chocolate chips, just measure. Or eyeball it. It’s chocolate that will melt into hot milk — you can’t really go wrong.
PRO TIP: If you don’t have enough (or any) real chocolate, you can use cocoa powder as a substitute for any or all of the chocolate. It won’t be quite the same, but you can still make delicious hot chocolate using a high quality cocoa powder. As in, real cocoa. Not the packets with the stale marshmallows plopped right in.
4. Add the chocolate and half of your milk to a small saucepan set over medium heat. You read correctly: Start with only half of the milk. Trust me.
5. Whisk, whisk, whisk. As the milk gets hot, start whisking to blend the melting chocolate into the milk. Then, once the chocolate is fully incorporated, add the rest of the milk and continue heating until warmed through to your desired temperature.
6. Taste test. How does it taste? Like it more chocolatey? Add more chocolate! Wish it was less chocolatey? Add some more milk. Not sweet enough (this will certainly be the case if you’ve used an unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder)? Stir in some sweetener, whether granulated sugar or one of our favorite natural sugars of choice. Make adjustments until it’s just right for you.
Oh, and of course, test the temperature, too, before sharing with little ones. We are fully against any accidents that may create a bad association with hot chocolate. (Heh.)
You can also spice up your hot chocolate using cinnamon, a dash of hot chile powder, or peppermint extract. Get creative! Because once you make velvety, rich hot chocolate this way — in barely more time than it takes to add hot water to a weak hot chocolate mix — you’ll never go back.