Everybody has a hot chocolate recipe, but not everybody has an uber-creamy, flavor-packed, lusciously thick recipe made with real chocolate. And let’s be honest, we all remember THAT drink more than ones made from powdered mixes.
This is the best hot chocolate recipe you will ever come across and the only one you need for this upcoming festive season. Plus, it’s super versatile in the way you can make the base AND the toppings that you can use.
Difference Between Hot Cocoa And Hot Chocolate
Hot cocoa and hot chocolate are two beloved warm beverages that are often confused for each other.
The primary difference between these two chocolaty delights lies in their ingredients and preparation methods.
Hot cocoa is usually made from granulated sugar and cocoa powder, with either whole milk, skim milk, or water (heavy cream is rarely used). Cocoa powder is the key ingredient that imparts a lighter texture and a milder cocoa flavor to the beverage.
Hot chocolate on the other hand is made by melting real chocolate (be it chocolate pieces, chocolate bars, or chocolate chips) directly into a mixture of milk and occasionally cream. This process results in a thicker, creamier concoction with a luxuriously rich and indulgent chocolate taste.
Today, I will show you how to make a hybrid creamy homemade hot chocolate and hot cocoa. We will mostly be using real chocolate with a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder.
Ingredients For This Incredibly Creamy Italian Hot Chocolate
- Evaporated milk
- Bittersweet chocolate
- Cocoa powder
- White sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
Can I Use Other Kinds Of Chocolate For This Homemade Hot Chocolate?
Of course, you can! You should just either replace the cocoa powder you used with a similar flavor or leave it out completely.
I recommend choosing semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate that is at least 60% cacao for the best taste and texture.
You can also try white chocolate, milk chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, or dark chocolate.
You can use chocolate chips instead of a chocolate bar if you prefer, but I find that chopping your own chocolate (just like grating your own cheese) results in a much more velvety consistency.
Can I Make A Vegan Rich & Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate
I LOVE making vegan homemade hot chocolate, and this recipe is super easy to customize.
All you have to do is replace the evaporated milk with a plant-based alternative.
I prefer using unsweetened almond milk. Because we are already adding sugar to the hot chocolate, you don’t need sweetened almond milk too.
Other delicious vegan milks you should try include cashew milk and oat milk.
You also need to substitute the bittersweet chocolate chips and cocoa powder with a vegan-friendly option. The same goes for when you are using other kinds of chocolate like semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, dark chocolate, or white chocolate chips.
Homemade Hot Chocolate Toppings And Flavorings
I’m starting with a tried and tested, albeit a little boring, Italian hot chocolate topping, whipped cream.
But, to spice it up a little, literally, you can add some vanilla extract or peppermint extract. I would also add a dash of powdered sugar. These add a new depth of flavor that helps elevate the chocolaty flavors from the homemade hot cocoa recipe.
To garnish, l love toppings like mini marshmallows, Christmas sprinkles, mini dark chocolate chips or shavings, and of course, crushed candy canes.
Now, if you are looking to add more flavor directly to the creamy hot cocoa mix, I would again suggest peppermint extract or vanilla extract.
To make an adult beverage, try peppermint schnapps or Irish cream.
Storing And Reheating Rich and Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate
Many people don’t realize that you can actually store leftover hot chocolate. It is always best to serve immediately, but sometimes it’s not always possible.
First, allow the hot chocolate to cool completely at room temperature. Remove the drink from the warm mug or hot pot to help it cool faster. It also helps if you are stirring constantly.
Once cooled, transfer the hot chocolate to a clean, odor-free glass jar. Keep it refrigerated, and it will stay fresh for up to 3 days!”
To reheat, it’s best to use a medium saucepan again. But if you are in a rush, use the microwave at medium-low heat. For more info, check out my article How Long To Microwave Milk For Hot Chocolate.
Tips For Making Homemade Hot Chocolate
- Use whatever brand or variety of cocoa powder you like for this hot chocolate recipe. The real chocolate gives most of the flavor and texture. I recommend dark cocoa powder or Swiss cocoa powder for a creamier texture and more intense flavor. I used Hershey’s brand Special Dark.
- This hot chocolate will thicken upon cooling.
- If you want to keep your hot chocolate warm, place it into a travel mug or use a mug that is made from a good heat-retaining material, like clay or ceramic.
- If you want to make crockpot hot chocolate, start by combining all of your ingredients inside the crock pot bowl. Next, set the crock pot to a low heat or cook mode. Leave it to cook for 1-2 hours. The flavors will slowly develop and merge together.
FAQs On My Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe
While it is possible to freeze hot chocolate, I wouldn’t recommend it. The freezing process will cause your creamy cocoa mixture to lose a lot of its luscious mouthfeel. You’d be better off making fake hot chocolate from powdered mixes!
No matter what kind of milk you use, be it evaporated milk, whole milk, heavy cream, or powdered milk, they will all be better than water for one reason – they contain fat and fat means creaminess. Furthermore, any milk product also tastes amazing compared to flavorless water.
Homemade Creamy Hot Chocolate
- 12 ounces Evaporated milk
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao recommended)
- 2 Tbsp Cocoa powder (dark chocolate or Swiss cocoa recommended)
- 2 Tbsp White sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- Begin by roughly chopping the bittersweet chocolate and set it aside.
- Place a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat and pour in the evaporated milk. Add the chopped chocolate.
- Continuously whisk the mixture until the chocolate starts melting.
- Gradually add cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt into the saucepan, ensuring they are thoroughly combined.
- Allow the mixture to gently simmer for 8-10 minutes. Keep whisking occasionally to prevent sticking and ensure even heat distribution.
- Once the hot chocolate reaches your desired consistency, remove the saucepan from the heat. Let it cool slightly to a comfortable drinking temperature.
- Serve in your favorite mugs, topped with a dollop of whipped cream or a handful of marshmallows for added indulgence.