How to Make the Perfect Hot Chocolate
I am not a coffee or tea drinker, so rely on my daily mug of hot chocolate to get me through my mid-afternoon slump.
The most essential thing about creating the perfect hot chocolate is the ingredients. After trying every brand of hot chocolate powder on the market I was left feeling completely dissatisfied and unfulfilled. I can only describe them as unappetizing, bland, muddy water and definitely not worthy of their sumptuous ‘gourmet’ labeling.
I was also surprised by their list of ingredients such as corn syrup, artificial flavoring, and many chemical words that I had never heard of. Personally, I’m not a fan of corn syrup, preferring the flavors of sugar cane and I don’t understand why hot chocolate needs artificial flavors. Real hot cocoa is made with cocoa, sugar and water, topped up with some milk or cream. Real hot chocolate is made using chocolate, milk and cream. Personally, I find hot cocoa too watery and true hot chocolate to thick and pudding like (and too difficult to make at work), so I thought, why not combine them to get the best of both?
Part 1: Creating the Hot Chocolate Mix
Provides detailed instructions on how to create your own delicious rich hot chocolate mix. As we all have different tastes, this recipe can form a base that you can tweak according your preferred levels of chocolate and sugar intensity. There are also lots of optional extras that you can add depending on your flavor preferences. This makes a great hot chocolate recipe to give to friends and family.
Part 2: Making the Perfect Hot Chocolate
Provides a detailed guide on how to make the perfect hot chocolate and includes loads of tips and advice, including how to get that perfectly frothy milk.
PART 1: Creating the Hot Chocolate Mix
- 1 cup powdered milk¹ (Optional)
- 1 cup good quality unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder²
- ½ to ¾ cup granulated sugar³, depending on how sweet you like it
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch, (cornflour for those of you in the UK, Australia & NZ)
- 200g (7oz) good quality dark or milk chocolate⁴
- ½ teaspoon salt
- A clean, dry empty jar or container
Fan of cinnamon? Add ¼ tsp (or more) to the mix.
Like a spicy, warming hint to your drink? Try adding a good pinch (or more) of cayenne powder.
- Get an arm workout by finely grating the chocolate. I have tried to use the grating function on my food processor, but it just seems to make a melted mess, so manual grating is the way to go.
- Add all of the ingredients to the blender with the normal blade attached. Blend for about 30 seconds until well combined. This ensures that it is thoroughly mixed and helps to remove any grittiness.
- Add to a clean dry container or jar. This should keep in your cupboard for up to two months (but it’s so good that it never lasts longer than a few weeks in mine).
1Milk powder: Vegans and those that are non-dairy consumers can omit the milk powder and get the milky flavoring by making the drink with almond, coconut, soy or rice milk. I find almond gives a really lovely sweet nutty flavor to the drink.
The added milk powder is handy for those of you whose workplace does not provide milk or is in limited supply. It’s also good when you are running low on milk at home, because you can still make a milky hot chocolate without it.
If you only ever make your hot chocolate with milk, then feel free to omit it. Although I make mine with fresh milk, I like the added milkiness that the milk powder gives it. I love to make it using whole milk, but I’m usually trying to reduce my fat intake so trim/light milk works well too!
Peak Dry Whole Milk Powder is rich and delicious and is perfect for your hot chocolate mix.
2Cocoa: Choosing the right cocoa powder for your mix is important as it has a big influence over its flavor. Dutch processed cocoa is treated with an alkaline to neutralize and reduce its acidity, giving it a smoother flavor. It has a reddish-brown color and is easily dissolved in liquid. I recommend Green and Blacks Organic Cocoa for its rich flavor and color. Every time I open the container, the gorgeous chocolate aroma hits me.
Green & Blacks - Organic Cocoa Powder
Green & Blacks cocoa powder is organic and 100% fairtrade. It's rich flavor will make your hot chocolate and baking taste amazing. It also smells really good!
3Sugar: If you are going to use milk chocolate, then I would definitely recommend you reduce the sugar to ½ cup as milk chocolate is usually much sweeter than dark. I like to use dark chocolate and ¾ cup of sugar, but my husband who has less of a sweet tooth (he drinks his coffee without sugar), prefers only ½ cup. To get around this problem, I make the hot chocolate mix with less sugar and then add a little extra to my mug as I’m making it.
4Chocolate: I prefer to use dark chocolate because as I’ve gotten older I find milk chocolate a bit too sweet. For chocolate loving vegans, then I’m sure you have already found a suitable vegan chocolate. But if not, I recommend Aldi’s Dairyfine dark chocolate which contains cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier – soya lecithin, vanilla (Allergy advice: Contains soya, may contain traces of peanuts, nuts, and milk). It might not be the best chocolate you’ve ever eaten, but it’s definitely worthy of your consideration and is sold for a great price.
This is pure chocolate. Finely grate Scott's Cakes Dark Chocolate into your hot chocolate mix. It's perfect for shaving and all your baking and decorating needs.
PART 2: Making the Perfect Hot Chocolate (Makes 1 Serving)
1 cup milk
3 to 4 heaped teaspoons of hot chocolate mix
- Sprinkling of grated chocolate
- Chocolate sauce
- Sprinkling of nutmeg
- Sprinkling of cinnamon
- A drop of vanilla extract
- Dollop of freshly whipped cream
- Adults only version - a dash of Bailey’s Irish Cream.
- For coffee flavored hot chocolate, add some instant or a dash of brewed.
- Add 3 to 4 heaped teaspoons to a mug. Pour some cold milk into the mug and mix it into a paste.
- Microwave method: Add the remaining milk and stir to combine. Place in the microwave and heat on high for about 60 to 90 seconds (depending on the power of your microwave), or until hot. Stir again to ensure that it’s all combined.
- Stove top method: Heat milk in a small pot on the stove top. Once hot, add to the hot chocolate paste and stir until combined.
I personally love to add marshmallows and a good sprinkling of grated chocolate to recreate the real café experience.
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Tips for Making the Best Hot Chocolate
- Full cream milk or even half and half gives hot chocolate a richer flavor.
- The optimal milk temperature for sweetness is 60ºC (140ºF). Be careful - heating your milk above 70ºC (158ºF) can ruin the texture and flavor of it.
- If you are using a thermometer to heat your milk, be aware that it will be slightly delayed in displaying the correct temperature, so take it off the heat just before it reaches 60ºC (140ºF).
- Want café style frothy milk but don’t have a steamer? Try one of these methods to get the same results. Make sure that you use low fat milk as the fat content in full cream milk prevents it from getting frothy.
- Stove top method: As your milk is heating up on the stove top, continually whisk it. It will become nice and frothy as it heats up.
- Microwave method: Heat the milk in the microwave and then place it into a container or jar and secure the lid. Shake for about 40 seconds or until frothy.
- Coffee plunger method: Pour the hot milk into the plunger and pull the plunger up and down quickly for about 30 seconds or until it’s doubled in size. This method makes a lovely creamy froth.
Three Ways to Make Perfectly Frothy Milk.
Hot Chocolate Gift Idea
This hot chocolate powder makes the perfect gift. Place the mix in a mason jar and tie a decorative piece of ribbon around the top. For a cheaper option, save up small condiment jars and remove the label. Cover the lid with a circle of pretty material and secure with a rubber band or thin ribbon. Print and glue on your own bespoke label, and/or tie on an attractive handmade gift tag to it with a personalized message.