No matter if the weather outside is frightful or delightfully snowy, one winter treat is sure to warm you up in no time. Yes, I'm talking about hot chocolate. There's no comparison for me, and it's a go-to that satisfies even my most intense chocolate cravings. (And that's saying a lot!)
Sure, preparing hot chocolate the old-fashioned or even instant packet-style way works, but sometimes it's fun to step it up a notch by making it spicier, richer, or grown-up friendly. Here, 10 creatively delicious ways to mix up the best mug you've ever tasted ...
- Get minted - Adding a dash of peppermint extract is a super simple way to make an extra Christmas-y cup.
- Make it Mexican - For a real kick, add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and chili powder (or pepper, if you're brave like that) to your favorite generic hot chocolate recipe.
- Rock it Russian-style - Make your hot chocolate "R-rated" by mixing together 2 ounces of Kahlua, 1 ounce of vodka, and 1 cup hot chocolate.
- Get frozen - Who cares if it's cold outside, baby? Try turning down the temp on your hot chocolate for a special "frozen hot chocolate" treat. Mix 3 ounces of your favorite high-quality chocolate (melted) with two teaspoons of 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.
- "Loco Cocoa Coffee" - This is what my sister and I coined the coffee-cocoa concoction I thought I was the first to dream up at some point in my mid-teens. It's basically 1/2 cup (or more, if you want more caffeine!) of hot coffee, 1/2 cup of milk, mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa, 1 tablespoon of grated chocolate, and sugar to taste. Not for the faint of heart!
- White it out - If you're a white chocolate fan, you'll love Paula Deen's simple but rich recipe: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup white chocolate chips and 1 cup heavy cream. Stir continuously until white chocolate chips have completely melted. Stir in 4 cups half-and-half, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir occasionally until heated through. Pour into mugs and top with a dollop of vanilla whipped topping and garnish with mint leaf. Serves 2-4.
- Go gourmet - Try #6 with an added dash of lavender extract. Sounds strange, I know, but trust me!
- Add a twist - Of citrus! Add a couple slices of orange (or just orange peel) to give your hot chocolate a sunny edge.
- Go berry wild - Heat 3 cups of milk over medium heat until bubbles form around sides of pain (do not boil). Place 1 cup frozen raspberries, 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (chopped), and 2 teaspoons sugar in a blender. While blending, then gradually add in milk. Strain to discard raspberry seeds. Serves 4.
- Spike it! - Bourbon or brandy plus maple syrup make a perfect pair for taking your hot chocolate to an entirely amazing new level.
More from The Stir: 12 Heavenly Ways to Spice Up Hot Cocoa
What's your favorite way to prepare hot chocolate?