Tips and Tricks to Take Your Hot Chocolate to the Next Level

It's the middle of October; the leaves are changing, pumpkin patches are in full swing, and the nights are becoming just cool enough to enjoy a steamy cup of hot cocoa, the greatest of all cold-weather beverages. Don't stop with your run-of-the-mill cocoa mix, though. Use this season to experiment and take your hot chocolate to a completely new level! Here are some tips to spice up your hot chocolate adventures! 

First, for those who want to go big or go home, here is a tried and true homemade cocoa recipe from Real Simple that will be sure to keep you cozy during those hazy autumn evenings. If you're a little more pressed for time, however, Serious Eats named Ghiradelli's Premium Hot Cocoa in Double Chocolate the best affordable store-bought mix. 

Now for the fun part! 

1. Add a teaspoon of your favorite peanut butter to a mug of hot chocolate to basically make a melted Reese's Cup--and who doesn't want that? Extra points if you add marshmallows. 

2. If you're more of the Twix persuasion, you can add a teaspoon or so of caramel sauce. PRO TIP: Sprinkle in a dash of salt to be transported to salted caramel heaven

3. Like a little kick in your beverage? No, not alcohol, (although Baileys Irish Cream supposedly pairs wonderfully with cocoa). Kick as in spice, like cinnamon with the tiniest hint of cayenne chili powder. This concoction will definitely keep you warm after a long night of studying at a cold library desk. 

4. Need a little something to help you wind down before bed? Lavender can help with that. Add a few buds of the plant into your mug along with some white chocolate chips for a blissfully aromatic cup of liquid goodness. 

Happy Sipping! 

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