There’s hot chocolate, and then there’s hot chocolate. Some of us who grew up in the 70s became used to packaged mix with dehydrated marshmallows, which is actually hot cocoa. So, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered real, creamy hot chocolate made from scratch. What’s the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate? Hot cocoa is usually made with cocoa powder, milk and sugar. Hot chocolate is just melted chocolate with milk or cream. Sugar is not added but I have added it into this recipe since I’m using dark chocolate.
It’s very easy to make but requires a little patience to allow the milk to boil without scorching and the chocolate to melt completely. The real secrets are using a whisk and boiling the mixture a second time. The recipe is very straight forward and you can replace the peppermint with whatever flavors you like.
- You may use dark, bittersweet, semi-sweet or white chocolate. If using milk or white chocolate, reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe.
- If using skim, 1% or 2% milk, use 1½ cups of milk and ½ cup heavy cream.
- Don’t like milk, try 2 cups of almond milk instead.
- Stir in peanut butter, or add a pinch of sea salt, or try cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Celebrate the season by adding bourbon, brandy, spiced rum, Irish cream or dry red wine to taste.
What goes perfectly with hot chocolate? Gingerbread cookies! One of my favorite recipes is on Food.com. Because the dough needs to sit at room temperature for two to eight hours, it’s soft when using cookie cutters. I recommend cookie stampers. It’s much easier to get a solid design. If you would like to serve a cookie on the rim of the mug, just cut a notch out on of the cookie before baking.
Once you have REAL hot chocolate, you’ll never go back. There is nothing like sitting in front of a cozy fire with snow falling sipping on rich chocolate.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
- Medium saucepan
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 6 ounces dark chocolate chopped
- ½ tsp cornstarch
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp peppermint extract or 2 peppermint candies, crushed
- whipped cream optional
- marshmallows optional
- additional crushed peppermint candies for topping optional
- Combine milk and sugar in a medium saucepan on stove over medium heat. Bring to a boil, whisking periodically.
- Add chocolate and continue whisking. Then add cornstarch, still whisking.
- When the cornstarch and chocolate are entirely melted, add vanilla, peppermint extract (or 2 crushed peppermint candies) and bring the mixture to a second boil. This will make it smooth and flavorful. Turn off the heat as soon as it starts to bubble.
- Pour the hot chocolate immediately into two mugs.
- Top with whipped cream and marshmallows.
- Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies.
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