So I think it’s pretty safe to say we’re in hot chocolate season, right? I mean, it’s post-Halloween, verging on Christmas music season–it’s time to whip out that Cocomotion and get snuggly as it gets cold outside!

So everyone has packets or cans of hot cocoa mix in their pantries, right? And there’s totally nothing wrong with that. I have ’em, too. But what about when you want something extra special, decadent, and…wait for it…easy? This recipe is pretty darn simple–you hardly even have to measure anything and you can use your microwave if you want to.

I’m including two methods of making this hot chocolate: one if you have a hot cocoa machine and one if you don’t. I honestly don’t know WHAT is so magical about things like the Cocomotion or the Back to Basics Cocoa-Latte, but they somehow magically transform ordinary hot cocoa mix into something amazing. And this is all coming from me–Mr. Coffee isn’t paying me a penny to say nice things (although he’s more than welcome to if he so desires!)

So how do we do this? Remember Sara’s Hot Fudge Sauce? Same basic idea here:

Ultimate Hot Chocolate
Recipe from Our Best Bites

2 1-oz. squares of unsweetened baking chocolate
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
4 c. water
1 tsp. vanilla

Method 1: Using a Hot Chocolate Machine

In your microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the chocolate and the sweetened condensed milk until the chocolate is completely melted (about 2-2 1/2 minutes in the microwave). Whisk together to combine completely and set aside.

Combine water, chocolate mixture, and vanilla in your hot chocolate machine and turn it on, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Method 2: Using Your Stovetop

In your microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the chocolate and the sweetened condensed milk until the chocolate is completely melted (about 2-2 1/2 minutes in the microwave). Whisk in vanilla, combine completely, and set aside.

In a larger saucepan, bring 4 c. water to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate mixture.

Either way you make it, serve in mugs with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired. Serves about 6.


Mexican Hot Chocolate: Add 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper in with the vanilla.

Mint Hot Chocolate: Replace vanilla with 1 tsp. mint (NOT spearmint) extract

Peppermint Hot Chocolate: Replace vanilla with 1 tsp. peppermint extract. Serve with a candy cane instead of a spoon to stir.

Almond or Hazelnut Hot Chocolate: Replace vanilla with 1 tsp. almond or hazelnut extract.


  1. 1
    Maryreadsalot says:

    I have been looking for this recipe for 43 years. Thanks so much

  2. 2
    krme4 says:

    I'm surprised to see you use Imitation Vanilla…why not make your own?

  3. 3
    Kate @ Our Best Bites says:

    krme4–Because I'm lazy :). No, I figure if imitation vanilla is good enough for America's Test Kitchen (they were not able to detect any noticeable difference in the finished products), it's good enough for me. I do, however, only use pure almond extract instead of imitation.

  4. 4
    Jones Town says:

    I made this recipe this morning. Yummy! I didn't have any whipped topping-marshmallows would do as well for me- but I really think the whipped topping would just finish rounding the flavors out. I'm excited to see you are a follower of America's Test Kitchen. LOVE IT! Love their cookbooks too! You and Sara have an awesome site and your recipes are superb! Thanks!

  5. 5
    Helen says:

    hmmm yum yum yum. i love hot chocolate. must make some.

  6. 6
    Sweet Simplicity says:

    I can't wait to try this! I LOVE hc.

  7. 7
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    A *drinkable* version of my favorite hot fudge sauce?? Kate, this is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

  8. 8
    The Nedrys says:

    I will be making this tonight for me and the hubby! Looks yummy! I love hot chocolate and am especially excited to try the Mexican blend!

  9. 9
    Heather says:

    You should add:

    Orange Hot Chocolate
    I love chocolate and orange together
    adding a little Orange Liqueur is always yummy in hot chocolate although I'm sure a little Orange Extract would make a yummy kid friendly version.

    (I also love amaretto in my hot chocolate when I'm in the mood for something different than peppermint or orange)

  10. 10
    Katie Tyler says:

    This made my whole day! My anniversary is coming up in December and at my reception we had a Hot Cocoa Bar — which makes sense knowing my obsession with hot cocoa and adding yummy treats to it! Now I am inspired with a new recipe for our anniversary! 🙂
    PS I am still not over the deliciousness of your carmel apple cider! So hot cocoa must wait for Dec!

  11. 11
    Me and My Pink Mixer says:

    No Swiss Miss packet of hot chocolate for me anymore – this sounds wonderful! Making it for me and my girlfriend for Friday night High School football this week 🙂

  12. 12
    Dorothy says:

    Boy, does that hot chocolate look good! Thanks for the variations too–I'd love to whip up some peppermint hot chocolate and swirl a candy cane in it. I agree about the imitation vanilla; I use it all the time, even though I have a stash of homemade vanilla I made a year ago. To me, the homemade still tastes too boozy, even after all this time. I use it for cooked items, but for frosting I always reach for the imitation (from Wal-Mart, too!).

  13. 13
    momof3brightones says:

    I just made this and it was yummy!! It made my stuffy nose go away for the time being!

  14. 14
    Thryth says:

    This sounds like an amazingly good recipe. I know how well sweetened condensed milk works for making a sweet tea or coffee, so it only makes sense it would do wonders for hot chocolate! Can't wait to try it, but I'll be using 100% pure vanilla. I quit using imitation vanilla years ago, and I've never regretted it.

  15. 15
    Tara Lynn says:

    Question: Can I substitute cocoa for the baking chocolate? I rarely have baking chocolate but always have cocoa.

    PS: I just discovered your website and LOVE it! Thanks for all the great ideas and recipes. Cooking is my passion.

  16. 16
    Kate @ Our Best Bites says:

    Tara–Yep! You can just substitute 1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. of unsweetened cocoa powder.

    And I'm so glad you found us! 🙂

  17. 17
    Tara Lynn says:

    Thanks a lot!

  18. 18
    The Wifey says:

    I was so waiting for someone to call you out on the imitation vanilla like they did in however many posts ago that was.
    This looks really yummy and sinful.

  19. 19
    sheri says:

    Yay!!!! I'm GIDDY about this recipe! My friend bought me the Cocomotion for Christmas last year and I've been hooked ever since. I might have actually ordered FOUR of them for gifts this Christmas. Thank you for the recipe!

  20. 20
    Malesa says:

    This looks too uberly delicious. We actually have a cocomotion that we stored for over a year in an apartment that has virtually no storage space because my husband felt like we needed to hold on to it this long. I'm finally glad that we have it because this recipe looks AWESOME!

  21. 21

    YUM!! I have had hot chocolate at work already twice this week! LOVE a good hot chocolate to warm me up. Can't wait to try this!

  22. 22
    betchacanteatjustone says:

    Yum! I'd love to make this super extra special by sneaking a little bit of baileys into it 🙂
    (oh, it's not even 7am…am I allowed to be thinking that?!? LOL)

  23. 23
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction says:

    Yum… I love hot chocolate… There's something about the coming holiday season that just makes me want to curl up with some hot chocolate and a cookie! I don't have a hot chocolate machine, but I think the saucepan option sounds great.

  24. 24
    slugolicious says:

    This was so flippin' good! I made it tonight for our family night and it took me back to when I was a kid. That strong taste/memory connection. I used powdered choc and oil instead of the cubes and it came out fine. Real vanilla too. I had to make a double batch to feed everyone 🙂

  25. 25
    Cherry Tree Lane says:

    This looks AMAZING! and I have all the ingredients in my house, which means I am going to make it TODAY!! 🙂

  26. 26
    Lindsay says:

    Made this tonight. Y-U-M! Huge hit!!! And SO easy! I will definitely be making this again. Makes me want to throw away all the cocoa packets in my house!

  27. 27
    Diamond says:

    After holding on to this recipe since it was posted, we tried the hot chocolate last night. I'm afraid we are not fans of this one. We didn't even finish a cup.

    This hot chocolate was much too sweet and minimally chocolate-y for us. We prefer a much deeper and richer chocolate flavour in our hot chocolate.

  28. 28
    Shannon says:

    Is this one of those "serve immediately or it will separate" sort of recipes? I want to make it for a party I'm going to so it would require me making it beforehand and either reheating it there, or maybe taking it in a crockpot? Any suggestions?

  29. 29
    Staci says:

    This IS a drink where if it’s not served right away it will separate. It had a rich flavor that I enjoyed but not so much the graininess of it.

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