4 Ways to Liven up Your Hot Cocoa This Holiday Season

Move over Pumpkin Spice Latte, hot chocolate season is here! This warm, sweet beverage is a classic when the holidays kick in, but let's be honest--the typical marshmallows and whip cream combo gets a little redundant. If you're looking to shake up your hot cocoa routine then you've come to the right place. Check out these awesome hot chocolate recipes that are guaranteed to excite your tastebuds. 

1. Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (from Chef in Training

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1½ cups of half and half (part cream part milk)
  • 6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  •  ½ cup sugar
  •  ¼ cup caramel sauce

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Stir until smooth and hot. Pour into mugs. Garnish with whipped cream, caramel and coarse sea salt

2. Spicy Mocha Hot Chocolate (from Diethood)

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

Toppings:

  • Whipped Cream
  • Marshmallows
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Caramel Syrup

Directions: Place all ingredients, except the toppings, in a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, constantly whisking, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through.

Pour into a mug or glass and top with whipped cream, marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, chocolate syrup and caramel syrup. Serve.

3. Peppermint Hot Chocolate (from Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of milk of your choice
  • 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped into small pieces (or white chocolate chips)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (or more/less to taste)

Toppings:

  • Whipped cream
  •  Crushed peppermints 
  • Marshmallows

Directions: Stir the milk and chopped white chocolate together in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer and the chocolate is melted.  (Do not let it come to a boil or let the chocolate burn on the bottom.)  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and peppermint extract. Serve warm, with optional toppings if desired.

4. S’mores Hot Chocolate (from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk, any kind
  • 1 cup water (or use 3 c milk)
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp light chocolate syrup
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp non-bitter stevia (or add 1-2 Tbsp more sugar to taste)
  • Pinch salt
  • Graham crackers, crushed (for lining rim)
  • ½ cup marshmallows

Directions: preheat oven to low broil and move oven rack to the second from the top (high enough up to broil your marshmallows). Place baking sheet on rack. Heat milk and water in a saucepan over medium heat until warmed through - about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overheat or scald. Add cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, sugar, stevia and salt and whisk vigorously until thoroughly combined.

Meanwhile, take a few marshmallows and rub them around the top of your mugs so the graham crackers will stick. Then, dip mug in graham cracker crumbs until well lined. You could also add some graham cracker crumbs to the bottom of your mug for extra graham flavor.

Pour in hot chocolate and top with ¼ cup marshmallows each. Carefully set mugs on the baking sheet in the oven and broil marshmallows until browned, watching carefully as to not let them burn.

Carefully remove from the oven with a towel and serve with holders or a small towel to protect hand from heat (they should cool quickly for handling). Top with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and extra graham cracker crumbs for serving (optional).