It’s a cool (58 degrees F/14 degrees C) and rainy morning following a rainy afternoon and evening yesterday. Sometimes, on days like these, tea doesn’t cut it when it comes to warming your bones: you need hot chocolate.
Rather than going for the packets, however, may I suggest that you try making your own? It takes almost the same amount of time, uses ingredients that are found in most reasonably well-stocked kitchens (and are cheap if you don’t have them), and can be customized to suit your taste.
Personally, I prefer my chocolate darker and more bitter/less sweet than is generally offered in packet form, so making my own from scratch is a good solution. Plus, it’s not actually much more indulgent than a homemade London Fog or masala chai, and probably healthier than the cafe-bought versions of those drinks. If it’s a cool day or evening and my tastebuds want dessert and my brain wants indulgence but my stomach is saying “Eh, don’t really need something heavy right now,” this is my go-to drink to cuddle up and read a book with.
It gets a little old doing the same one after a while, so in addition to my basic bitter hot chocolate recipe, I’ve included a Mexican-spiced hot chocolate recipe and a mint hot chocolate recipe. The latter could be adapted to any flavor you like, as long as you have the appropriate extract or flavored syrup. I’m a big fan of chocolate and orange together myself…
Basic Bitter Hot Chocolate
Adapted from the Hershey’s Cocoa Powder box recipe (here).
Yield: 1 mug.
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder*
2 tsp to 1 Tbsp sugar
Dash of salt
1 c milk**
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Mix cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a large mug. Heat milk on a stove over medium heat or microwave about 1.5 minutes, or until hot (watch carefully so that it doesn’t boil over!). Gradually add hot milk to cocoa mixture in mug and stir until well blended. Stir in vanilla extract.
*I use natural, but you could probably use Dutch-processed cocoa powder as well, if you want a super-dark mug of hot chocolate.
**I often go with about half milk and half water, but I’m sure using only milk tastes better.
Mexican-Spiced Hot Chocolate
Follow the basic recipe above, but add to the dry ingredients in the mug:
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Stir in hot milk as normal and garnish with more cinnamon if desired.
(Mint- or Orange- or Whatever-)Flavored Hot Chocolate
Follow the basic recipe above, but omit vanilla extract and substitute in 1/4 to 1/3 tsp extract of the flavor of your choice. Alternatively, omit vanilla extract and 1 tsp sugar, and stir in 1 pump (1.5 tsp) flavored syrup, or more to taste.
Serving suggestions: garnish with whipped cream or marshmallows.