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Holiday Hot Cocoa Recipes

One of the first cool weather traditions my family enjoys is the making and drinking (more like slurping) of hot cocoa. Each year, we have different styles of hot cocoa that we love to taste test. Now it’s not like the memorable hot cocoa scene in the holiday movie classic “Polar Express,” but these tasty versions should warm your taste buds and your tummy.


Traditional Hot Cocoa
Around 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I like the Ghiradelli brand)
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1 cup milk or any combination – whole, half and half, low fat or skim
Whipped cream or marshmallows

Whisk together the cocoa, sugar and about 2 tablespoons of the milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until cocoa and sugar are dissolved. Whisk in the remaining milk and heat over medium heat. Whisking occasionally, until it is hot. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Tip: For extra froth, whisk it until your wrist hurts, or blend it in the blender.

Unswettened cocoa. Don't skimp on "good" cocoa. This is the key to an excellent cup of hot cocoa.

Unswettened cocoa powder. Don’t skimp on “good” cocoa. This is the key to an excellent cup of hot cocoa.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa
1 cup milk or any combination – whole, half and half, low fat or skim
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Optional: 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chopped
1-2 drops of peppermint oil
3 peppermint sticks; 2 crushed, 1 left whole (for garnish)
Whipped cream or marshmallows

Place cocoa in medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in milk until cocoa has dissolved. Add crushed chocolate and crushed peppermint, and oil; simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate and peppermint have melted for approximately 8-10 minutes. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Add salt. Garnish with whipped cream/marshmallows and peppermint stick or candy cane.

Hot Cocoa Fast Fact: Do you know the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate?

Answer: Hot chocolate is made from ground chocolate (which contains cocoa butter). Hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, and cocoa powder is actually something that has no fat content by itself. 

Quick Hot Cocoa Versions
You can spice up any hot cocoa by adding one of these ingredients: maple syrup, peppermint candy (allow to dissolve at bottom of mug), cinnamon, nutmeg. I also love adding coffee to my hot cocoa that creates a cross between a Mexican hot cocoa and mocha. Delish adult hot drink.

Happy slurping.

Kristal Zacharias is the mother of two beautiful, vivacious girls, and wife of a hunky husband who works in the action sports industry. For the past 15 years, Kristal has worked for several Fortune 500 companies as a professional communicator. Follow her journey at Clearly Kristal or on Facebook and Twitter.


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