I have a memory from a hot summer day when I lived in California. I was rushing frantically from somewhere to somewhere because that was my M.O. back then, and I wanted a drink to sip on. I stopped by this place called Barefoot Coffee, which is one of those places where the baristas are intimidating and the flavorings are extracted from the locally raised tears of a unicorn (and it was reflected in the prices)… but they make really delicious coffee.
I stared indecisively at the menu as the tattooed, flannel clad man behind the counter tapped his fingers impatiently. I started sweating, partly from the heat but mostly from the pressure of the disapproving guy in front of the me and the agitated line of people behind me.
I knew what I wanted but I couldn’t quite find the words. This is what came out –
“Can you make me a mocha without coffee. Like, a hot chocolate. But cold.”
Flannel Man gave me a withering look.
“You want a chocolate milk?”
<pause panic answer>….
“Uh yeah, I guess so.”
I walked out of there with my $4 chocolate milk feeling disgruntled and strangely inferior. In retrospect, I wanted something comforting to soothe the chaos I felt inside, all around me – and a good, stout hot chocolate has never failed to be comforting.
When the season of scarves, gloves, and frozen morning grass arrives I am filled with glee because I know that it’s also time for mugs of rich, tasty hot chocolate topped with whipped cream, preferably accompanied by something buttery to dip into said mug of rich, tasty hot chocolate.
The hot chocolate recipe I’m sharing with you today takes a bit longer than the instant stuff, but it is worth the extra time. I think Flannel Man would approve. Adding whole pieces of chocolate is the secret to making it so decadent; I used 62% dark chocolate chunks. To eliminate chopping. Because why work harder when you can work smarter <—mantra of a (smart) semi-lazy person.
You can measure the ingredients out ahead of time and put it in a plastic baggie or small mason jar to speed up the process of making this hot sippy drink – add a pretty ribbon to the jar and it would also make a great gift!
I highly recommend topping the chocolate off with some homemade whipped cream; add some chile and cinnamon for Mexican hot chocolate, or stir in your favorite flavoring to spice it up. Don’t forget good dipping cookies and good company for sharing.
By the way – Merry Christmas everyone! Comfort, joy, and peace…(plus hot chocolate?) to you and yours.
- 4 cups milk of choice (I used almond)
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup cane sugar
- ½ cup dark chocolate (cut some up or use chunks or chips)
- 1 tsp real vanilla
- fresh whipped cream for topping (optional, see instructions for how to make it)
- flavoring such as peppermint, cinnamon + chile, etc (optional)
- Heat milk in saucepan on medium heat until just before boiling
- Whisk in cocoa, cane sugar, chocolate, and vanilla until well combined
- Turn off heat and serve immediately or put in crock pot or thermos to keep warm
- Top with whipped cream and stir in any flavoring as desired
- To make whipped cream: use 1 cup heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup powdered sugar. Put in electric mixer and beat on medium/high speed until stiff peaks form