How to make hot chocolate from scratch this winter
Each season has a signature drink. Iced tea is the norm for spring, sipping in summer adds lemonade, and hot apple cider drinks are more plentiful in fall than falling leaves. But without a doubt, the drink that is synonymous with winter and holidays is hot chocolate.
Hot chocolate is the drink of choice when the temperature drops below freezing and when fresh snow falls blanket the ground. Sipping on hot cocoa is almost as pleasant as taking a hot bath after a day in the snow and there is nothing better on a cold winter evening than sipping a mug of steaming hot chocolate while the marshmallows s ‘wave for their lives.
If you are still not convinced that hot chocolate is the dominant winter drink, name another drink with many songs extolling its virtues. Listen to America’s Dad, Tom Hanks, say a few lines about hot chocolate in The Polar Express, and you’ll want a cup almost immediately.
History of hot chocolate
Before we jump into a simple recipe for making hot chocolate right in your kitchen, let’s quickly trace the origins of America’s favorite decaffeinated hot beverage. Feel free to repeat this brief history lesson to kids who are waiting for their cocoa to be over, or to impress a romantic interest by spending a cold winter evening at your home while on vacation.
The origins of chocolate consumption can be traced back to the Mayans, who drank crushed cocoa beans in water, usually adding cornmeal and chili peppers to the mix. The process involved pouring the concoction from one cup into another, back and forth to form a thick foam, then drinking the cold chocolate water.
The recipe for the chocolate drink made its way across Europe between the 1500s and 1700s, but the evolution of hot chocolate into the drink we all love today began with a doctor named Hans Sloane. Sloane developed a system for mixing chocolate with milk instead of water at one point in the late 1700s.
The original use of hot chocolate was to treat stomach and liver ailments until, eventually, the brew turned into an after-dinner treat for the upper class.
Simple hot chocolate recipe
Ripping up a packet of Swiss Miss or NestlÃ© hot chocolate is perfectly acceptable, especially if you’re dealing with impatient kids, but making hot chocolate from scratch produces something much more delicious and much more satisfying for the palate.
If you don’t know how to make hot chocolate from scratch, the process couldn’t be easier. In fact, making hot chocolate is so easy, you’ll probably never go back to the sachet-making process again.
Just make sure all the necessary ingredients are buried somewhere in your cupboards, as you won’t want to walk through the snow looking for unsweetened cocoa powder or vanilla extract.
- 4 cups of milk (your choice)
- .25 cup of cocoa to cook
- .5 cup sugar
- .75 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup hot water
- Pinch of salt
- In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa and salt.
- Add water and bring everything to a boil.
- Cook and stir for 2 minutes before incorporating the milk.
- Heat the hot chocolate to serving temperature but do not boil.
- Remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the vanilla extract.
- Whisk the drink until frothy.
âA crucial reminder when making hot chocolate is that the type of cocoa, brand and quality of chocolate will give different results. In other words, if you buy crappy cocoa you’ll get a crappy cup of hot chocolate, âsays Neomie Eliezer, pastry chef and new season contender. Holiday Pastry Championship on Food Network.
How to brighten up hot chocolate
If you’ve mastered making hot chocolate but the typical cup of hot chocolate is starting to age, there are some easy ways to spice up the drink with minimal effort. We’re talking about going beyond the standard marshmallow filling.
Neomie came up with a few tips to make the typical cup of hot chocolate a little more exotic:
- Cinnamon: Add a cinnamon stick – or ground cinnamon – and it adds a whole new layer of hot chocolate flavor. So tasty.
- Cayenne pepper: While we’re on the topic of spices, turn your basic hot chocolate into a spicy Mexican hot chocolate by simply adding cayenne pepper to it for a sweet but spicy treat.
- Thick hot chocolate: The easiest way to make thick hot chocolate is to add cornstarch to the milk during the process, but another option is to make a ganache if you have the cooking chops and then dilute it a bit. with milk or water.