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Best Hot Chocolate | Downshiftology

Are you ready for the best hot chocolate you’ll ever taste? This recipe is sumptuously rich, velvety smooth, and perfect for warming up throughout the winter season.

There’s nothing quite like a cozy mug of hot chocolate in your hands on a cold, wintery day. It’s decadent, slightly indulgent, and one of the best parts of the holiday season, along with baking the perfect batch of no bake cookies.

While you can stir cocoa powder into warm milk and call it a day, this recipe is extra special and worth the splurge. Hot, simmering milk melds with semi-sweet chocolate, cacao powder, and a dash of maple syrup, all in one pot. It’s lusciously thick, deliciously creamy and a little piece of chocolate heaven.

Ingredients for hot chocolate on a table.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Ingredients

There’s just four ingredients in this recipe! In my opinion, the best hot chocolate is simple to make, with just a few quality ingredients.

  • Milk: You can use dairy or dairy-free milk, including cashew milk, almond milk, or oat milk. The creamier the better! And since this recipe has sugar in it, I’d choose unsweetened store-bought milks.
  • Chocolate: An essential ingredient for making hot chocolate! Whether you’re using bars or chips, just make sure to finely chop it.
  • Cacao Powder: The cacao powder (or cocoa powder) plus the chocolate is what makes this recipe so phenomenal. Trust me, you need both.
  • Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is a great natural sweetener, but feel free to swap in honey, coconut sugar, or your sweetener of choice.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below

The Best Type Of Chocolate To Use

Unlike its close cousin hot cocoa, which is made from only cocoa powder, chocolate is an essential ingredient for hot chocolate. You can use your favorite type of chocolate, though I recommend a semi-sweet or dark chocolate that’s hovering around the 50-60 percent range.

Dark chocolate has a distinctly rich flavor that tastes amazing when whisked with milk. And when you’ve finely chopped the chocolate, it’ll melt into the most luxurious, velvety texture. But if you’re not a fan of the bitterness of dark chocolate, don’t worry. A splash of maple syrup sweetens it perfectly.

Chocolate shavings on a board for hot chocolate.

How To Make The Best Hot Chocolate

  • Simmer the milk. Add the milk, cacao powder and maple syrup to a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer and whisk together until there’s no clumps.
  • Add the chocolate. Add the finely chopped chocolate and stir for 3-5 minutes, or until the chocolate is fully melted and combined.
  • Serve. Pour into your favorite mugs and serve.

Stirring hot chocolate in a pot.

Hot Chocolate Flavor Variations

While simple hot chocolate is classic for a reason, there’s so many ways to amp up it up, if you so choose. Here’s a few fun and delicious ideas.

  • Peppermint: Add one drop of peppermint extract into each cup.
  • Boozy: Pour in a bit of bourbon or brandy for an extra fun night in.
  • Salted Caramel: Dollop whipped cream (or coconut whipped cream) and drizzle salted caramel sauce over it.
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate: Stir in cinnamon and serve with a cinnamon stick.
  • Classic: Top it off with marshmallows and a sprinkle of cacao powder.

How To To Store Hot Chocolate

  • To store: Pour into airtight glass jars, and store in the fridge for 3-5 days. It may separate, but that’s fine if it does, as it will recombine when you reheat it.
  • To reheat: Add the hot chocolate to a saucepan and gently reheat it on medium heat, until warmed through.

2 mugs of hot chocolate next to cacao powder.

Hot Chocolate Recipe Video

Want to see how I make this in my kitchen? Watch the video below! 

More Cozy Winter Drinks

Nothing beats bundling up on the couch with a warm drink in your hand. Here’s a few other options I know you’ll love…

If you make this recipe, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Hot Chocolate

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cook Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 10 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Yield: 4 cups

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This is hands down the best hot chocolate you’ll ever taste! It’s unbelievably rich, velvety smooth, and perfect for warming up throughout the winter season.

  • 4 cups milk, dairy or dairy-free (any type will work)
  • 3 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, or honey
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (or approx 2/3 cup chocolate chips)
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • If you’re using chocolate chips, I still recommend doing a quickly chop with your knife to finely chop the chocolate. Otherwise, you might end up with clumps of chocolate in the bottom of your mug.
  • Keep an eye on the stove! Milk can easily boil over, and that’s never fun.
  • This is a really thick and luscious hot chocolate, though the type of milk you use will affect the level of creaminess. Nut milks naturally won’t be as thick as full-fat milk. If you’re using full-fat milk and would like it a bit thinner, just swap one cup of milk for one cup of water.

Calories: 225kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 2mg, Sodium: 165mg, Potassium: 240mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 14IU, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 2mg

Course: Drinks

Cuisine: American

Keyword: best hot chocolate, hot chocolate, hot chocolate recipe

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