Is there anything better than curling up next to a roasting fire on a cold night and sipping a big ol' cup of hot chocolate (complete with mini marshmallows, of course)? And while it's hard to imagine anything more perfect, believe it or not, there are even tastier ways to indulge in the delicious drink:
Original: Can't go wrong with an original. Combine 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 3/4 cup of white sugar, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in 1/3 cup of boiling water. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes, then stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but keeping it just below a boil. Remove from heat and add in 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Serves 4.
Mexican Hot Chocolate: A spicy twist to the original. Simply add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a pinch of chili pepper to your favorite. The zip from the cinnamon and chili pepper will warm you right up.
Toffee Treat: Stir in butterscotch chips into the original hot cocoa until melted, top with whipped cream, and then sprinkle with crushed toffee bar pieces (Heath bars are recommended).
Cookies & Cream: This one is easy but oh so delicious. Simply crush Oreo cookies and sprinkle them on top of the whipped cream. You can even dip them into the hot cocoa for an extra chocolate-y treat.
Holiday Hot Cocoa: With stores not lacking in the peppermint department this time of year, crush up pieces of hard peppermint candies (approximately one per cup), stir into the chocolate, and add 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract for good measure. Sprinkle any leftover candies over the whipped cream.
Raspberry Heaven: Pour raspberry liqueur (preferably Chambord) into an original hot chocolate for a decadent drink. Garnish with a piece of crystallized ginger, if desired.
White Delight: Heat 6 cups of milk and 2 cups of heavy cream until bubbles form, then pour over 12 ounces of white chocolate (finely chopped) in a medium heat-proof bowl. When it begins to melt, stir to combine, then whisk in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Continue whisking until light foam forms. Serves 8.
Frozen Hot Chocolate: Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Simply mix 3 ounces of your favorite high-quality chocolate (melted) with two teaspoons of store bought cocoa mix and 1 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until well blended. Remove and slowly add 1/2 cup of milk, stir until smooth, and then cool to room temperature. Then blend mix, 1 cup of milk, and 3 cups of ice in blender until smooth. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
Sexy Citrus: Add in 2 strips of orange peel and 2 strips of lemon peel to 4 ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate, 3/4 cup half-and-half, and 3/4 cup of milk, over heat. Remove peels after 2 minutes and add Brandy and Limoncello to taste. Zing!
Rise & Shine: To put a pep in your step, add 1/2 cup of hot coffee to 1/2 cup of milk. Mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa, 1 tablespoon of grated milk chocolate, and sugar to taste. Definitely worth climbing out of bed for.
Russian Hot Chocolate: Sorry kids, this one's for mom and dad only. Mix together 2 ounces of Kahlua, 1 ounce of vodka, and 1 cup hot chocolate made from milk. It won't just be the temperature that warms you up with this drink.
Peanut Butter Better: Chocolate and peanut butter is the best combo ever, right? So why aren't we putting it into our drinks? Melt peanut butter cups into your favorite hot cocoa for a candy-inspired beverage.
Country Cocoa: Stir in maple syrup to your original hot cocoa for a completely different (yet delicious) version.
What's your favorite variety of hot chocolate?
Image via HeatherParker/Flickr