Gourmet Hot Chocolate

I love hot chocolate.  Like, really love it. I also love flavored steamed milk.  I buy it in the middle of the summer and the Starbucks employees ask me if I’m aware they sell iced drinks.  I don’t drink coffee so I guess this is my vice.  One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is host a hot chocolate bar.  Sometimes we’ll invite another family over, sometimes we’ll host an adult get together, and sometimes I kick my husband and kiddos out of the house for a few hours and have a girls night in.  Today I’m going to show you how to step it up a notch and put something together that’s super trendy and super gourmet!  And you don’t need to throw a party to enjoy these, it’s a fun after dinner treat for the family, or just a cup for one on a chilly day.

I put together these flavor combinations with normal ingredients you can find in your own cupboards and at the grocery store.  I’m not listing ingredient amounts because it’s really a to-taste thing.  If you’re setting up spread for a get together, try putting all of these combos in little stations where people can put the add-ins in themselves.  I use little espresso sized cups so people can grab several tastes without feeling an overload!  First I’ll show you my creations, and then I’ll give you my hot chocolate tips.  Here we go…



  1. My local coffee shop has a hot chocolate called The Snowball. It has coconut syrup and is topped with toasted coconut. It is yummy!! My boys would love the one with Nutella.

  2. This post makes you hungry!

    I am having my first giveaway on my blog – a gift card sponsored by CSN Stores. please do come over and enter

  3. This is an amazing post! I love hot cocoa.
    I have been looking for something special to so for our friend Christmas, and I think this will be perfect! Thanks.

  4. I cannot find those cute gingerbread marshmallow's here anywhere! Love this post – everything about it!

    Happy Day,

  5. lisa- LOVE the toasted coconut idea!

    Alyssa- ok I should have specified, you don't *have* to use whole milk, it just tastes really really good 🙂 Also, because it has a little more creaminess (aka fat aka yumminess) things tend to melt in a little better.

    Jasey- yup, your two ingredient fudge is thick ganache, that's actually my *favorite* kind! That would work great in there too 🙂

  6. Like you, I don't like coffee and hot chocolate is my "vice". I keep it low-fat, though, except when it is my dessert. I, too, use the classic Hershey's recipe but with skim milk, one packet of artificial sweetener, and about 1/2 spoonful of caramel syrup with a dash of vanilla extract (for 1 cup). Sometimes I'll treat myself with a splash of half-and-half (esp. in the winter) just to "richen" it up. My son will be so excited to see a recipe for white hot chocolate (thank you!!!) and I've never thought to host a hot chocolate bar but I think it's in my future!!! Thanks for the great ideas — can't wait to try the Nutella version.

  7. I think that hot cocoa is one of my favorite things in the entire world! I think I'll put together a hot chocolate bar this holiday season now!

  8. I seriously LOVE you for this post! I'm not a coffee drinker either and hot chocolate is totally my favorite winter treat. For my wedding, I got a hot chocolate machine, which mixes up the hot chocolate and dispenses with foam. Thank you for posting the recipes! I am definitely going to try to make my own hot chocolate next time.

  9. Love this!! Now I want to plan a Hot Cocoa Bar party!

    A note for Cher who asked about Silk….

    In my experience (at home and when I used to work at Starbucks), soy milk does heat up well, but it heats up faster than cow's milk so you have to watch it closely so it doesn't burn.

    Thanks again! I can't wait to try some of these.

  10. Wow, what creative ideas. I've never heard of a hot chocolate bar before. Looks awesome!

    Instead of hot chocolate, I usually drink vanilla milk.

    hot milk with either vanilla torani syrup or a teaspoon or so of vanilla and a little sugar.

  11. Your creativity blows my mind! You are a true genius in the kitchen. Can you think of a way to make an egg-nog flavored hot chocolate? It is my husbands absolute favorite and I would love to make it into a yummy hot drink for him this Christmas 🙂
    Thanks for the awesome post.

  12. We were planning a Polar Express party and of course, the Polar Express needs Hot Chocolate. This post came just in time to give me a few more ideas! Yummy!

  13. A hot chocolate bar! What a great idea. I love hot chocolate; Hershey's recipe is definitely a favorite and I make it almost every night. Can't wait to try these yummy variations!

  14. Eeee! I plan on having a December wedding next year (or 2012, we haven't decided yet ^_~ ) and this would be a great idea to set up at the reception. Instead of a dessert or candy bar, do a hot chocolate bar! Tiny espresso cups (love that idea so you can try a few different flavors), carafes with hot milk chocolate, white chocolate, or hot milk mixed up, items placed out, and then a chalk board with "recipes" for inspiration behind the table. This is so exciting, I love this!

  15. One of my favorites is white hot chocolate with peppermint syrup and caramel ice cream topping.
    (I'll have to try it with that pink peppermint whipped cream and crushed candy canes!)

  16. Great ideas! I don't think I can manage to fit this in before Christmas, but wouldn't a hot chocolate bar girls night be a great way to beat the January doldrums?

    To the person that asked about eggnog-flavored hot chocolate, what if you made hot chocolate by substituting egg nog for the whole milk. I bet that would be yummy!

  17. I love hot chocolate with any flavor! I used to work at a coffee shop and I can't drink coffee due to a caffeine intolerance, so hot chocolate is my thing 🙂 The one thing you have to watch out for when dealing with raspberry syrup is that it will curdle when it is mixed with milk (the acidity of the flavor causes a reaction.) To solve the problem you can add it to the chocolate syrup or mix it with a shot of espresso prior to mixing it with the coffee.
    As for why whole milk: fats carry flavor, so the higher the fat content in the milk, the better it will taste 🙂

  18. You ladies are A MA ZING! This looks so good! Thanks for another fabulous idea. Just a heads up for those looking for the gingerbread mallows I saw some at my local (Sandy,UT) Walmart.

  19. ok, this is our next girls night activity! A hot cocoa bar and hours of talking with the gals. Thank you so much for the inspiration!! 🙂

  20. I recently had a to die for Hot Chocolate many of you may be familiar with. I was given a gift card to Star Bucks and not being a coffee drinker I went in search of Hot Chocolate. They had on the menu a Carmel Salted Hot Chocolate!! Yummy, they best tasting yet!! At home I recreated it by simply putting a drizzle of Caramel (1-2 tsp.) in the Hot Chocolate and sprinkled a little Kosher salt on top of the marshmallows. I crave it daily, just can't get enough!

  21. Oh my word, to die for. Decisions on what to make for Christmas morning but I think I will make the caramel ones as my daughters LOVE caramel!!! You ladies are awesome!

  22. Yummy!! I so love your ideas! Thought I'd share my favoritest hot chocolate adder right now. Hershey's Cinnamon chips. They melt so lusciously and are an awesome mix with hot chocolate, white, milk, or dark. I top that with some spray cream (don't know why but I LOVE it on hot cocoa) and enjoy.

    As far as lactose-intolerant people, have you tried using Almond Milk instead? I've read you can heat it, but haven't tried doing that myself. I'm sure it would make an incredible hot chocolate though, I'd be tempted to do that even though I can have milk!!

  23. Yes!! We're hosting a New Year's Eve thing (totally low-key), and I now have my dessert! Have people bring cookies, and provide the hot cocoa bar… in fact, I just ordered the espresso cups set! You rock!

  24. Oooh, the Nutella one is definitely calling out to me. And I just happen to have two jumbo jars of Nutella on hand. Hot chocolate, here I come! 😉

  25. I absolutely ♥ Hot Choc, so must weigh in here.
    Try it with whipped cream that's only been whipped about 1/2 way, so that it is still pourable. Pour slowly over the back of a teaspoon on to your very hot Hot Choc. When you take a sip the cold cream floats on top and hits your palate while at the same time the hot choc hits the tongue.
    Quite an experience.
    Trust me 😉

  26. nursegirl- not rude at all! We just avoid excessive caffeine due to our religious beliefs/lifestyles. Although with the amount of chocolate I consume I may need to cut back there too, haha!

  27. I am hosting our book club this month and am going to serve a Gourmet Hot Chocolate bar! I LOVE this idea.

    I've been mixing up my own concoctions to go along with your fabulous ones. My favorite that I have come up with is TIRAMISU.

    Whole milk

    DARK chocolate crumbled into it

    (I would love to offer a bowl for a pinch of instant coffee for flavor, but I think some of my guests would be appalled.)

    Rum flavoring

    Marscapone cream
    (I may or may not add that pinch of instant coffee here, somehow I think my guests would be less opposed to 'eating' a teaspoon of flavored cream than drinking it, but we'll see)

    Served with Lady Fingers.

    Does it sound great? Tell me it sounds great… 😉 Any ideas for getting that Tiramisu coffee flavor without offending my guests?

    Thanks for the great idea! My mom in Utah saw you on TV and forwarded your site to me.

    Zurich, CH

  28. Not sure if you care, or if anyone is reading these comments anymore but I figured it out (I am the Tiramisu hot chocolate recipe above)! I will offer little coffee flavored chocolates (Thank you Switzerland, and your full isle of chocolate in even the smallest of grocery stores!) to melt into the milk instead of plain dark chocolate.

  29. Wow! Ok, obviously I’m a bit late to the party, but these are amazing! We are definitely doing this next winter! Thanks for all the great ideas!

  30. i host a cookie swap for my family and friends every year. im really considering having a hot chocolate bar this year. i know they would all love it.

  31. I have a question – I love, love, love hot chocolate and all these recipes look wonderful, does anyone know of a lactose free product I can use instead of milk? Not everything heats up great.

  32. Love this idea! If I were to do this for a slightly bigger event, say a wedding reception…how would you recommend keeping the hot chocolate at the right temperature?

  33. I came across this site when googling recipes for hot chocolate. I am trying to discover 1 – if there is a store/shop dedicated to hot chocolate like there is for coffee and 2 – are there enough varieties of hot chocolate ‘flavors’ that currently exist so make a shop successful, if one doesn’t already exist? Any thoughts from the author?

  34. Hi! Discovered your page while I was looking for an easy gourmet recipe for hot chocolate to add to one of our blog stories. We featured the Raspberry Truffle with links all back to you!

    Can’t wait to try all of these yummy drinks!


  35. We’re having a cold day here in May and was so happy to stumble across your picture of Hazelnut hot chocolate on Pinterest…..oh yum! I made it with cinnamon whipped topping instead of chocolate because that’s what I had on hand and it’s delicious! Can’t wait to try the rest!

    ~ Mara

  36. I make my own (have to being dairy-free). I make mine with 1 1/2 cups coconut milk heated just under a boil. I use dutch cocoa with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar. Pour the milk into the cocoa (or combine it all on the stove) in a mug. Garnish with a homemade marshmallow and enjoy. It tastes just like a mounds candy bar…delicious!

  37. Love hot chocolate! Doing a hot chocolate bar for neighborhood book club tonight. My problem is I can’t decide which ones to do!

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