hot cocoa

If you still think hot cocoa comes in a packet, you’ve got a magical surprise coming. True hot chocolate — made up of bittersweet chocolate and warm milk — is a silky, rich and filling treat that’s good for your health and your soul alike.

So instead of filling up on candy and booze this holiday season, treat yourself to one of these gourmet variations on the traditional hot chocolate recipe.

Basic Hot Chocolate Recipe (serves three)

Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring it gently, until bubbles begin to form. Don’t let it boil or burn on the bottom. Turn the heat to low.

Chop the chocolate finely and add it gradually to the pot, stirring very well and scraping the bottom of the pot. When it is well combined, pour it into mugs.

Mexican Style Hot Chocolate

To the chocolate, add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of ancho chili powder. To the milk, add a few drops of vanilla extract. After mixing your cocoa, add raw organic sugar as desired.

Orange Spiced Hot Chocolate

In a food processor, combine the chocolate with the zest of one half of an organic orange; one teaspoon of peeled, chopped fresh ginger root; 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract; and two tablespoons of brown sugar. Blend for about a minute until the mixture is well combined.

Reduce the milk to about two cups, and add one cup of water. Heat the mixture with three or four whole cloves.

After mixing your cocoa, add brown sugar as desired.

Vanilla-Cardamom Sleepy Time Cocoa

Drink this one right before bedtime. To the chocolate, add one teaspoon of ground cardamom. To the milk, add a half teaspoon of vanilla extract. After mixing the cocoa, add raw organic sugar as desired.

These recipes are all flexible, and most of these ingredients go together beautifully. Try mixing them up and adding your own favorites to make your own perfect cup of cocoa.

Want more? Try these recipes for Eggnog Hot Chocolate and Spiced White Hot Chocolate.

image: Steven DePolo

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