Cocoa Caliente

On a cold, dark, wet, wintry day, a cup of hot chocolate is mandatory. As it also is for après-skiing or ice skating in Central Park. And I think hot chocolate tastes best when you're sitting in front of a fire.

It's been a harsh winter for most of the country and now it seems like San Antonio is getting a taste of it as well. I have been wishing for some cold, and I mean cold weather. And my wish is coming true. It's predicted that the high's will be in the low 40's and the low's in the 20's. Burrrrr.

A perfect opportunity for a cup or two of hot chocolate.

It's been years since we've bought or used a hot chocolate mix. In fact, David's been making his own hot chocolate ever since I can remember.

And when I tell you how easy it is, not to mention how fantastic it tastes, you'll likely never buy or use that junk in a package either. This version is healthy and free of chemicals, additives and preservatives. Plus, you can use dairy-free milk and even a sugar substitute for a cup of guilt-free, vegan hot chocolate.

So here's the best way to make it at home. May I suggest you make a bunch of this yummy stuff and get the whole family to sit by the fire and sip hot chocolate for some quality time together?

Buen provecho!

A cup of hot chocolate generously topped with
whipped cream (regular and chocolate whipped cream)

Hot Chocolate
The Cowgirl Gourmet ( got this recipe from David, the cowboy as well as the Vermonter where hot chocolate is a mandatory winter accessory

Print recipe

This is a combination of the thinner, milkier version known as "hot cocoa" and the dense, thick and rich concept called "hot chocolate." It is rich yet still delicate and decadent. And using dark chocolate means it's good for you!

Makes 2 cups

2 cups milk, you can use whole milk, skim, rice, soy or almond milk
2 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa, the best quality cocoa you can find
3 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (we use a combination of 50%-70% dark chocolate discs though you could use any chocolate you have just chop it into pieces so it melts evenly and easily; if you do choose milk chocolate, you will likely not need to add much sugar)
Pinch of Kosher salt
Truvia, Ideal, other sugar substitute or sugar, to taste (I use 2-3 Tablespoons)
Whipped cream, from the can (chocolate whipped cream is especially nice for this) or homemade, for garnish

In a saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat. Add the cocoa and a pinch of salt to the milk and whisk to combine. Once the milk starts heating up, add the dark chocolate and continue whisking until everything is melted.

Whisking the cocoa into the milk

Cocoa and chocolate incorporated into the milk

Add the sugar or sugar substitute to taste and stir to combine. I add about 2-3 Tablespoons of Ideal. Just before it comes to a boil, it's ready. Pour the hot chocolate into mugs and top with a generous squirt of canned whipped cream or a big dollop of homemade whipped cream.

Enjoy the hot chocolate sitting by the fire, reading a good book or just doing nothing.
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