Hot Chocolate

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In the time it takes to microwave water and dump in a packet of stale chocolate powder, you can have luscious, homemade Hot Chocolate that is rich, velvety, and oh-so-delicious.

Hot chocolate in a latte mug.

Growing up in Wisconsin, winters included a lot of cross-country skiing. My grandparents always took my brother and me. My face would be freezing while, underneath many layers of heavy winter clothing, I’d be sweating. Cross-country skiing was hard work!

Luckily, there was always a sweet reward at the end: Hot chocolate. My grandma’s hot chocolate was creamy and full of rich chocolate flavor, and we had more marshmallows than you could shake a stick (or ski pole) at. Ah, to be young again.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for hot chocolate.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Milk: Of course hot chocolate tastes more decadent and delicious with whole milk, but it’s still plenty rich and chocolatey if you use 2% milk.
  • Bittersweet chocolate: Do not substitute semi-sweet chocolate; it will leave an artificial after-taste.
  • Sugar: Start with 2 tablespoons sugar and add more to taste (I add a full ¼ cup when I make this recipe).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Whisk in cocoa until mostly smooth with some lumps.
Chocolate sauce being stirred in a silver saucepan.
  1. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in milk until cocoa powder is dissolved.
Milk being added to chocolate sauce mixture for hot chocolate.
  1. Bring to a simmer and whisk in chocolate, sugar, and salt. Reduce heat to low and whisk until chocolate is smooth and incorporated. Taste and add more sugar if desired (I like 2 additional tablespoons for ¼ cup total).
Hot chocolate being mixed in a silver saucepan.
  1. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve with whipped cream and marshmallows if desired.
Hot chocolate with two marshmallows in it.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This Hot Chocolate recipe makes 4 cups (32 ounces or 1 quart).
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Some separation may occur, so stir to recombine while reheating.
  • More serving ideas: Dust with ground cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg.
Hot chocolate topped with whipped cream.
Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream.

Recipe FAQs

What is the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate?

Hot cocoa is usually made from a store-bought packet mixed with water. It has a thin consistency and a super-sweet taste. Hot chocolate is a homemade beverage made with cocoa powder, sugar, and milk or cream. It is rich, velvety, and very chocolatey.

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Hot chocolate in a latte mug.

Hot Chocolate

In the time it takes to microwave water and dump in a packet of stale chocolate powder, you can have luscious, homemade Hot Chocolate that is rich, velvety, and oh-so-delicious.
Author: Meggan Hill
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 4 servings (1 cup each)
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Calories 172

Ingredients 

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus more for dusting, optional
  • 3 cups milk (see note 1)
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped (see note 2)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or more to taste (see note 3)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • whipped cream for serving
  • marshmallows for serving
  • chocolate syrup for serving

Instructions 

  • In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Whisk in cocoa until mostly smooth with some lumps. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in milk until cocoa powder is dissolved.
  • Bring to a simmer and whisk in chocolate, sugar, and salt. Reduce heat to low and whisk until chocolate is smooth and incorporated. Taste and add more sugar if desired (I like 2 additional tablespoons for ¼ cup total).
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve with whipped cream and marshmallows if desired.

Notes

  1. Milk: Of course hot chocolate tastes more decadent and delicious with whole milk, but it’s still plenty rich and chocolatey if you use 2% milk.
  2. Bittersweet chocolate: Do not substitute semi-sweet chocolate; it will leave an artificial after-taste.
  3. Sugar: Start with 2 tablespoons sugar and add more to taste (I add a full ¼ cup when I make this recipe).
  4. Yield: This Hot Chocolate recipe makes 4 cups (32 ounces or 1 quart).
  5. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Some separation may occur, so stir to recombine while reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 172kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 7gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 80mgPotassium: 319mgFiber: 2gSugar: 21gVitamin A: 296IUCalcium: 213mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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