When it’s getting windy and chilly outside and fall is bearing its teeth and bringing the weather down, hot cocoa is an American favorite to beat the upcoming winter blues and warm up. While many of us are satisfied with the classic hot cocoa packets with boiling water to warm and energize us, there are many ways you can bring your hot cocoa to life without buying the “fancy” versions in the store that cost a lot more than the classic packages. Learn how to liven up regular “boring” hot cocoa to make it gourmet without spending a dime.
When making cocoa, the quickest way to get that creamier flavor is to substitute 1 part milk or whipping cream or half and half (soy milk is an awesome choice for the health conscious) with 1 part water. So when making your cocoa from a traditional packet, use 1/2 milk (or 1/4 if you don’t want all the calories) to 1/2 water (or 3/4 water if using less milk) to get that frothy cocoa. I like to do 1/8 half and half, 1/8 milk, and 3/4 water for a creamier, yummier cocoa from the package.
To add yummy flavor to your cocoa, add a teaspoon of honey, a few drops of vanilla, or a dash of cinnamon on top of your hot cocoa and stir it in. On top of a delicious aroma, you can uplift your mood and taste buds by adding these healthy spices that boost your metabolism, aide in immunity and ease headaches. The perfect makings for a calming, warming brew.
Stir in your favorite jelly (like grape or marmalade) or a seedless jam (like boysenberry or raspberry) into your hot cocoa to give it a fruity boost. One of my favorites is loganberry jam (sans seeds) with a dash of cinnamon for a luxury treat.
Almond extract is great in hot cocoa as well. A few drops added in (not too much, then it tastes too much like cherries) and a teaspoon of heavy whipping cream is simply delicious to garden variety packaged hot cocoa.
Add a few dark chocolate chips (5 or 6) before adding boiling water or milk to your cocoa to boost the chocolate packaging and give you a richer hot chocolate.
For thicker hot chocolate, add a teaspoon of chocolate or vanilla instant pudding mix to make a creamier, stick-to-your-ribs cocoa. For a big batch of cocoa, like 6 or more servings, add a teaspoon of pudding mix per cup of cocoa and stir on the stove.
Coconut milk is an awesome healthy alternative that gives a sweet, creamy spin to cocoa that regular milk or even heavy whipping cream can’t compete with.
Add a tiny drop of peppermint into your cocoa to open up your senses, or drop a mint in the bottom of the cup. It will dissolve nicely and add a great flavor.
A butterscotch candy in the bottom of the cup gives a sweet, creamy flavor. I love to drop a Werther’s Original hard caramel in the bottom of my cup before I make cocoa, and it provides a sweet, delicious flavor throughout the whole cup, and you get the leftover candy all warm and succulent when the cocoa is gone- double score!
There are so many ways to spice up classic hot cocoa packets, there is absolutely no need to spend extra dollars to buy the fancier gourmet cocoas in the store. It’s fun and original to beef up any hot cocoa any way you like to beat the winter blues.