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American Recipes: Hot Cocoa | Hot Chocolate

Updated on March 18, 2015
Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell is a freelance writer with WriterAccess, webmaster, member of Pinterest Party on FB and the owner of Lake Erie Artist Gallery.

American Recipes: Hot Cocoa | Hot Chocolate
American Recipes: Hot Cocoa | Hot Chocolate | Source
Decorative cup of hot cocoa ready to serve
Decorative cup of hot cocoa ready to serve | Source

Is There Anything More Comforting Than The Perfect Hot Cocoa Recipe in the Winter?

Those of you who do not live in a climate that gets cold in the winter, are missing one of life's perfect joys, a cup of steaming hot cocoa in the icy cold weather.

The feeling of comfort and warmth from drinking a simple cup of steamy chocolate is something that truly must be experienced to understand.

Much of it stems from our linking warmth, chocolate, and food with our mothers as children, yet that doesn't take away the enjoyment. As adults, we can share our love for the perfect hot cocoa recipe with our families and friends. This lens explores some new hot cocoa recipes that might be a bit different from your mom's.

Cocoa Art

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Madcap cocoa artMadcap cocoa art 2Madcap cocoa art from above
Madcap cocoa art
Madcap cocoa art | Source
Madcap cocoa art 2
Madcap cocoa art 2 | Source
Madcap cocoa art from above
Madcap cocoa art from above | Source

Growing Up with Hot Cocoa

A soothing cup of comfort

When I was growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, my mother was a quasi-traditional mom. What I mean by that is that she was essentially a stay-at-home mom, but she was also a Ph.D. so she started taking me along to teach in a local college when I was a preschooler.

She had been brought up in a very traditional home, and so had my dad, so she did all of the cooking, and we did all of the eating.

Mom believed in comfort food, as many moms do. Every ethnic background, including full blooded American (if that really exists) has a list of basic comfort foods. In my house, hot cocoa was one of the biggest.

Back then, since my mom is not a gourmet cook, it was always Nestle's cocoa for us. And as kids, we did not miss anything better. There were no microwaves, so my mother heated the milk on the stove, then added it to the cup of Nestle's cocoa powder. Since it was filled with love, how could we not love it in return.

As an adult, I spent 8 years running a coffee house in Cleveland, where I learned there is more to a hot cocoa reicpe than adding Nestle's cocoa powder to milk. We made gourmet hot cocoa for our customers with half and half and dark Belgian chocolate, and topped it with freshly made whipped cream, and that's when I started upgrading the hot cocoa recipe for my own children.

I like to heat the milk on the stove at home, and mix it with actual chocolate instead of powder, but sometimes I will use the gourmet powders like Ghirardelli. It is something that my kids can make on their own. I do not, however, ever buy the cocoa powder that mixes with water anymore, because I just can't drink it.

I got spoiled.

So here's to motherhood, growing up, and comfort food. And to new traditions formed from the old ones. My mother will never be a gourmet cook, but she is a gourmet mom.

Delicious cocoa ready to drink
Delicious cocoa ready to drink | Source
5 stars from 1 rating of Hot Cocoa Recipes

My Own Personal Hot Cocoa Recipe

This is how I make it from scratch

I prefer to heat my milk over the stove. I don't really trust the microwave.

I measure the milk in the size cups I will be using. I tend to use skim milk because that is what we have at home, but if I am feeling gourmet, then I use half and half.

My preferred chocolate is semi-sweet Belgian shaved chocolate. I add the chocolate to the cups, and when the milk is just about to boil, I pour it over the chocolate. Then I stir and it melts together.

I put enough chocolate in each cup to make the hot chocolate a deep brown color. Since I use different mugs each time, I can't really tell you the measurements. You will just have to experiment.

My favorite topping is mini marshmallows, but my children like whipped cream so I mix the whipping cream with some vanilla syrup, the beat it until whipped, and top each cup.

Mmmmmmm. . .I think I will get some right now.

Hot Cocoa Recipe


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • Hot water


  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. In a small pot, heat 4 to 6 cups of water.
  • Fill your mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine. Seal the rest in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry. This also works great with warm milk.

Recipe from the Food Network

Show: Good Eats

Episode: Art of Darkness II: Cocoa

Excellent Hot Cocoa Recipes for This Winter

When cold winds blow and snow piles up on the windowsills, there is nothing more comforting than a steaming mug of hot chocolate or a soothing cup of tea. And haven’t we all wished that we could make a coffee drink at home that rivals the brew from that expensive coffee shop on the corner? With the more than 50 recipes in Hot Drinks for Cold Nights, the perfect cup is always at your fingertips.

Hot Cocoa Recipe with Homemade Marshmallows

The best marshmallows are homemade

Hot Cocoa Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup powdered milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • Homemade Marshmallows, recipe follows


  • Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  • Take the bittersweet chocolate and roughly chop it up to give a chunky but consistent size.
  • Mix well with a wooden spoon and then store in a dry airtight container.
  • To make the hot chocolate, simply add 1 cup of water per 1/2 cup of hot cocoa mix.
  • Heat in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring with a whisk. Heat until hot, but do not boil, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  • Serve with marshmallows.

Homemade Marshmallows Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons (3 packets) powdered gelatin*
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 egg whites**
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting pan and marshmallows
  • Butter, for greasing pan


  • In a medium sized saucepan soak the gelatin in the cold water. After the gelatin has softened, approximately 10 minutes, add the regular sugar and then gently dissolve over low heat, approximately 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • In a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks and then fold in the sifted confectioners' sugar. While the mixer is on low, slowly pour in the cooled gelatin mixture. Increase the speed and beat until white and thick. The volume should double in size and should form between soft and firm peaks.
  • Line an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with high sides with foil, grease slightly with butter, and coat with confectioners' sugar. Alternatively, you can use a baking sheet, but the marshmallows will not be as tall. Pour marshmallow mixture in and top with more sifted confectioners' sugar. Leave out overnight or for at least 3 hours to set. The marshmallow should be light and spongy when set.
  • Loosen marshmallow from edges of tray and invert onto a large cutting board. Peel off foil and use a large knife to cut the marshmallows into cubes. Dredge each piece in confectioners' sugar.

From Food Network

Show: Food Network Specials

Episode: All-Star Holiday Gifts

Simple Hot Cocoa Recipe

Chocolate and delicious


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Mix cocoa, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan. Over medium heat, stir constantly until mixture boils. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  • Stir in the milk and heat, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla; blend well. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Delicious hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings
Delicious hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings | Source

Creamy Hot Cocoa Recipe

Warm and toasty cocoa


  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream


  • Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan.
  • Blend in the boiling water.
  • Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn't scorch.
  • Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil!
  • Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs.
  • Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.

Spicy Mayan Hot Cocoa Recipe

This is a Mexican-style hot cocoa recipe, as you saw in the movie "Chocolat." After I saw the movie, I experimented for several weeks and came up with the recipe.

Cocoa was used by the Aztec and Mayan as a sacred drink. Xocolatl or chocolatl was brewed with various spices and drank unsweetened as part of ceremonies. This recipe uses pure cocoa and several spices, including chili peppers. The flavor is very rich and aromatic, like a dark perfume. It's also unsweetened. Some may prefer it sweeter; just add more sugar. Makes four mugs of hot cocoa.


Heat 4 cups of milk in a double-boiler at medium-low. If you don't have a double boiler, then put a small pot inside a larger pot. If you don't have two pots, then stir it constantly.

While the milk is warming up, mix the following in a new bowl.

  • ½ cup cocoa (use Peets, Scharffenberger, Valhrona, Starbucks, or similar.)
  • 1 tsp unbleached flour
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 crushed cloves (put the cloves on your cutting board and crush them with the flat of your kitchen knife)
  • ¼ tsp chili peppers (crushed, the same way as the cloves)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (loosely crumbled)

To mix all this:

  • Sift the cocoa powder and flour. Add a bit of milk and stir the cocoa/flour mix until it becomes a paste. Slowly add milk and continue to stir. It should turn into a paste. If you add milk too fast, you get clumpy cocoa. If that happens, use a hand blender to smoothen it. Finally, when all the cocoa and flour are a paste (no more dry flour,) add the remaining spices (sugar, nutmeg, cloves, peppers, and cinnamon.)
  • Add the cocoa/flour/spices mix to the hot milk in the double-boiler. Stir constantly to keep it from burning. If you want it thicker, add some corn starch. Add as much corn starch as you like.
  • When the cocoa is ready (it takes only fifteen minutes until it's nice and hot,) use a slotted spoon to scoop the cloves and cinnamon off the top and add:
  • 2 tsp powered sugar. If you want it sweeter, add more powdered sugar.
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • Serve in heavy mugs. If you like, you can put whipped cream on top, add small marshmallows, or add a stick of cinnamon (for stirring.)

- from

Mollie Katzen's Hot Cocoa Recipe - from Honest Pretzels

Mollie Katzen is a wonderful cook and author who promotes healthy and wholesome cooking. This recipe is from her book Honest Pretzels: And 64 Other Amazing Recipes for Kids.


  • 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (low fat works fine)
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract (if you like extra, add extra)
  • whipped cream (optional, recipe follows or you can buy some)
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • for whipped cream you need
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar


  • Put 2 tablespoons chocolate chips plus 1/2 tsp sugar into a small saucepan.
  • Pour the milk into a 2-cup measuring cup until it reaches the 1 1/2 cup line.
  • Slowly pour the milk into the saucepan.
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • Put the pan on the stove and turn heat to medium.
  • Stir slowly (important!) with a wooden spoon as the milk heats up. the chocolate chips will slowly begin to melt. (It takes about 5 minutes to reach the right temperature. keep stirring constantly and be patient, DO NOT LET IT BOIL!).
  • It will be brown all the way through and the chips will be melted and milk hot when it is ready.
  • When it's ready take the cocoa off the stove and slowly pour it into 1 or 2 mugs.
  • Serve plain, or with a little whipped cream (recipe follows) or cinnamon on top.
  • ***WHIPPED CREAM***.
  • Get out large bowl and a whisk.
  • Put the cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a bowl. Beat strongly but not too fast with a whisk. It's best to take turns with someone, so your arms won't get tired.
  • When it gets nice and puffy but is still soft, it's ready.
  • It can keep in a covered container in the refrigerator, it keeps up to 2 days. but the sooner you use it, the better.

White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Recipe


  • 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 14 ounces milk
  • 2 ounces cream
  • 3 pieces star anise


  • Place the chopped chocolate and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
  • In a saucepan heat together milk, cream and star anise until boiling.
  • Pour over chocolate and whisk well to melt.
  • Strain into mugs to remove star anise.

From the Food Network

Show: Sweet Dreams

Episode: Chocolate Madness

White Hot Cocoa Recipe

This recipe can be halved or quartered depending on how many people you're making this for. I wound up using 1/4 of the ingredients myself as I just made one cup. Make sure to use the same amount of vanilla extract though for any version of the recipe. Top with nutmeg or cocoa powder for decoration.


  • 1 qt. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. best-quality white chocolate, finely chopped


  • In a medium saucepan, heat milk and vanilla over medium heat just until milk begins to steam, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add white chocolate, and whisk until completely melted and combined.
  • Divide among four mugs; serve immediately.

Serves 4.


Haute Chocolate

for the hoity toity


  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean sliced in half lengthwise and scraped
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate finely sliced with a serrated bread knife
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) good quality cocoa powder, loosely packed
  • Serve with whipped cream and chocolate curls


  • In a 2-quart saucepan, stir together the milk, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped chocolate and the cocoa and bring to a boil again, whisking until the chocolate and cocoa are dissolved and the mixture has thickened. Reduce the heat to very low.
  • Blend for 5 minutes with an immersion mixer or whirl the hot chocolate in a standard blender for half a minute, until thick and foamy.

Makes four 6-ounce cups of hot chocolate.

© 2008 Paula Atwell

How Do You Make Your Hot Cocoa Recipe?

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    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 

      3 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this delicious lens "American Recipes Hot Cocoa Hot Chocolate"

    • Paula Atwell profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula Atwell 

      4 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @Jerzi Thanks for pinning. It is just getting chilly enough here to start drinking cocoa. :)

    • Paula Atwell profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula Atwell 

      4 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @Adventure Sounds great. Let me know which one he likes. We could even post a picture of him drinking it if you like (with your permission).

    • Jerzimom profile image

      Cheryl Fay Mikesell 

      4 years ago from Mondovi, WI

      Love hot chocolate especially on chilly days and evenings. Great recipes! Pinned

    • Adventuretravels profile image


      4 years ago from UK

      I like the sound of the additions like cayenne pepper and vanilla. These all sound delicious. I'm not sure which my son would choose, but I'll ask him later and we'll make one. Thanks for sharing.

    • mommytalks lm profile image

      mommytalks lm 

      6 years ago

      I grew up on little packets of Swiss Miss and, for that reason, never liked hot chocolate. I make my own now, too ... vast improvement!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      7 years ago from Canada

      We used to have a good recipe, wonder what we've done with it. Now we use the powder and a bit of Bailey's Irish Cream...

    • jgall34 lm profile image

      jgall34 lm 

      8 years ago

      I love all the hot cocoa recipes. thanks for the great lens.

    • funcook profile image


      8 years ago

      I like using bittersweet chocolate - real chocolate, not cocoa powder. Sometimes it's called drinking chocolate. So rich, so wonderful!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      How a-dough-able. I don't think I have ever seen such cute Chocolate Pots. I drink a lot of hot chocolate in the winter. I also have been know to drink whenever I get the hankering for chocolate. Great article.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      I do love Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa! Your little Hot Chocolate pots and sets are absolutely adorable!

    • hlkljgk profile image


      9 years ago from Western Mass

      i love to make my own cocoa - and it's so simple. i featured this lens at Comfort Food Headquarters

    • Sniff It Out profile image

      Sniff It Out 

      10 years ago

      I love hot chocolate, especially when it is cold and frosty outside...

      Another great lens which I am pleased to welcome to 'The Cooks Cafe' group.

    • VBright profile image


      10 years ago

      Perfect! I'm featuring this lens in my "5 things I love about Fall and Winter" Lens!

    • dahlia369 profile image


      10 years ago

      I don't drink coffee - so hot cocoa is what I drink year round even though I don't really need it to stay warm all that often...

      Cocoa is the best! Thank you for this lens and great recipes

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      10 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      You got me with the homemade marshmallows recipe! I've GOT to try that!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great Lens! I wanted to let you know I am featuring it on my Tips for Staying Warm During the Winter page!


    • PastorKay profile image

      Pastor Kay 

      10 years ago

      I also don't mind a hot hot chocolate....with a kick of cayenne pepper.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I prefer cocoa made with milk or a blend of half water and half heavy cream, with a hint of cinnamon, sugar and a splash of vanilla.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Some nice variations on hot chocolate. Defiantly going to try some of them, thanks!

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 

      10 years ago

      mmm...Very tasty lens and delicious visit! 5* from me! I think we have similar interests,this is my naughty treats lens , tell us what do you think.

    • VBright profile image


      10 years ago

      Oh, you and I think so much alike! This Nebraska Woman really enjoyed this lens! Hot coco IS one great thing about winter!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      10 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I never knew there were so many kinds of Hot Chocolate. I feel deprived. This is a beautiful lens. 5*

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      10 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      What a lovely lens this is, I'm a bit of a hot chocolate nutter myself and appreciate a fellow faddist of fine beverages :) I MUST try some white hot chocolate. 5* for testing out the spicy Mayan.I would love this lens to join the fine foods group

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Yum Yum Yum, hot cocoa time is coming soon, I don't like winter too much but hot cocoa makes it better! Love you hot cocoa blog.......I know you can drink it anytime, but it does taste better when you are cold and got the winter blues......

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      10 years ago

      Beautiful lens! I made marshmallows once, but lost the recipe. I'll have to try yours. Welcome to Culinary Favorites From A to Z. Squid Angel Blessed.

    • funwithtrains lm profile image

      funwithtrains lm 

      10 years ago

      Nice lens -- I've never heard of homemade marshmallows before. 5 stars and a favorite!


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