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Spice Up a Cool Day with a Decadent Hot Cocoa Bar

posted: 12/30/15
by: TLCme

My favorite treat on a cold winter day is a steaming mug of homemade hot chocolate. It is super easy to make and far superior to instant varieties that come in little packets. Besides, it turns out that good quality cocoa is full of many health benefits that aid your cardiovascular system and can improve your mood. Make a decadent hot cocoa for a fun treat or make it an event by setting up a full toppings bar to keep your kids busy on a snow day.

A photo posted by Elizabeth Birenbaum (@lizbir) on

It Starts with Milk
Hot chocolate is so versatile that you can use any type of milk that appeals to you, including cow, almond, and even coconut. Heat about 12 ounces of milk per serving in a saucepan over medium heat. The milk should start to steam, but not begin to simmer.

The Cocoa Quality Makes the Difference
To make hot chocolate truly decadent, purchase a good quality dark cocoa powder to which you have to add some honey or sugar to make it sweet. About 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and about 1.5 tablespoons of sweetener is about right. You can also use a regular bar of dark chocolate, just look for one containing at least 65% or more chocolate.

I slowly mix the chocolate or cocoa into the steaming milk while stirring frequently. For an added touch, you can use a mini milk frother to add a little foam and froth to the delicious mixture.

Get creative with the toppings.
Make it especially fun for the kids by setting up a toppings bar. You won't go wrong with any of the following:

  • smashed candy canes
  • crushed cinnamon candies
  • butterscotch chips
  • chopped nuts
  • chocolate shavings
  • shredded coconut
  • crushed toffee
  • orange zest or extract
  • spinkles and colored sugar
  • fresh whipped cream
  • mini-marshmallows

Spices and flavorings.
Chocolate is a wonderful vehicle for adding additional flavors, which can be appealing for adult palettes. Experiment with adding a hint of the following spices to your milk while heating: cinnamon sticks, cardamom powder, chipolte powder, and ground clove or ginger. Or you can add flavored syrups like caramel, hazelnut, peppermint, or liquors like coffee or kahlua.

Enjoy one of the finer moments of being inside all winter by making hot chocolate at home. Explore all the options for creating a special drink while staying warm and cozy by the fire.