It’s wicked Wednesday. Hump Day. The week is half over. Time for a wicked indulgence. Comfort for a bad day or celebration for a good day. You earned it.
Today’s wicked indulgence: a cup of indulgent hot chocolate. There is nothing more soothing and cheering than a good cup of hot chocolate. Creamy. Sweet. Chocolatey. Mmmmm!
Chocolate is the ultimate indulgence. It is a complete dessert in a cup. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, bitter chocolate, white chocolate – I love them all. Hot chocolate is the ultimate comfort on a cold, dark, rainy or snowy day. Sipping a cup of rich, warm, chocolatey milk is pleasurable as well as uplifting. It will sooth your soul. There are so many varieties of hot chocolate, we should try them all.
Starbucks, Panera, and McDonalds offer a variety of attractive and beautifully garnished hot cocoa drinks. Run through the drive-thru to quickly satisfy your chocolate craving. Peppermint, salted caramel, mocha, and white chocolate are favorite hot cocoa drinks. They can certainly satisfy a craving for chocolate although they are high in calories and can be expensive.
Commercial hot chocolate mixes including Quik and Ovaltine and K-cups are quick and easy to make. They come in many varieties and flavors. Peruse the ingredients carefully to avoid partially hydrogenated oils and unhealthy chemicals. Add milk instead of water for a healthier, tastier drink and add grated chocolate, marshmallows or whipped cream to improve flavor.
Homemade hot chocolate can be a luxurious treat. It can be made from simple and healthy ingredients found in your pantry and embellished with syrups, spices, marshmallows, and candy. There are dozens of varieties and recipes.
Basically hot chocolate is a mixture of sweetened chocolate dissolved in heated milk. It can be heated on the stovetop and in the microwave. Smooth hot chocolate needs to be evenly dissolved in milk. Creamy hot chocolate is a result of thickening the milk with cornstarch or using cream.
Basic ingredients are:
1. Cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, or shaved chocolate bits for the chocolate component.
2. Sweetener choices are granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple sugar, flavored sugars, or artificial sweeteners.
3. Powdered milk, milk, cream, sweetened condensed milk, and flavored milk are popular milk choices.
My favorite homemade hot chocolate is made from Hershey’s cocoa. It is made from fresh, healthy, simple ingredients. It is easy and can be made on the stove top or in the microwave.
“Perfectly Chocolate” Hot Chocolate
(microwave single serving)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Hershey’s cocoa
Dash of salt
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt in large mug.
- Heat milk separately in microwave oven at 100% for approximately 1 1/2 minutes,
- Gradually add milk to cocoa mixture and stir well.
- Stir in vanilla and serve.
Stovetop: Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt in saucepan. Blend a little milk in to make a paste. Add the rest of the milk and simmer for 1 -2 minutes, stirring until well blended. Stir in vanilla.
*The secret to a smooth cocoa is to add the cocoa and sugar to a small amount of hot milk and mix vigorously until well blended. Then, slowly blend with in the rest of the milk.
Garnish hot chocolate with marshmallows, whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate shavings, ice cream, or peppermint chunks, or caramel sauce.
Make your own hot chocolate mix from natural ingredients. It will taste much better than commercial mixes and you can easily make a large amount to be used later. Mixes are also a fantastic gift when put in pretty containers. The following hot chocolate mix recipe is from The Pioneer Woman and is very easy to make:
Hot Chocolate Mix
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups powdered milk
Sift sugar and cocoa into a large bowl. Stir in powdered milk and whisk until everything is mixed well. add mini marshmallows if desired. Place in an airtight container and store up to six months. Add 1/2 cup of the cocoa mix to a cup and pour in 1/2 cup hot water. Stir well.
Hot Chocolate Bar
Have a hot chocolate bar at your holiday gathering. Children and adults will love creating their own drink dessert. Set out festive cups or mugs and spoons, crock-pot hot chocolate, and any of the following embellishments:
Liquors: Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka, Whipped Cream Vodka, Raspberry Vodka, Amaretto liquor, Kahlua, Peppermint Schnapps, Fireball Whisky, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Rum Chata
Toppings and flavorings: : marshmallows, candy bits, whipped cream, a variety of chocolate chips, maraschino cherries, peanuts, sprinkles, flavored syrups, red hots, candy canes, coconut, cinnamon sticks, crumbled cookies, sea salt, cinnamon sugar.