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…

Holiday Spice:  White hot chocolate, pumpkin pie spice,
gingerbread marshmallows, cinnamon sprinkle. Optional: cinnamon oil or cinnamon syrup
I’m a sucker for raspberry and chocolate together so this was a natural choice.  This is great with both white or dark hot chocolate.
Raspberry Truffle: A couple chunks of dark chocolate on the bottom of the mug, hot chocolate or white hot chocolate, raspberry syrup or oil, whipped cream, raspberry drizzle, chocolate sprinkles.  For the raspberry drizzle either puree fresh raspberries or mix a little raspberry jam with warm water until smooth.
Possibly my favorite (and the least ingredients!)
Chocolate Hazelnut: Hot whole milk, Nutella, chocolate whipped cream, chocolate shavings.
Yes, I’m putting chunks of fudge in my hot chocolate.
Caramel Fudge:  A chunk of fudge on the bottom of the mug, hot chocolate, caramel syrup, marshmallows, caramel sauce drizzle.
Can’t go wrong with this classic.  If I’m at a coffee shop ordering hot chocolate, 9 times out of 10 I’ll go with something like this!
Peppermint Stick:  White or Chocolate hot chocolate, peppermint oil, extract, or syrup, pink peppermint whipped cream, crushed candy canes.
Tips: When setting up a hot chocolate bar I think of the following things:
Pour it: This is your base.  I like to have a hot chocolate, a white chocolate and plain milk.  I always use whole milk because it has such great flavor and a creamy texture.  If you’re concerned about calories, c’mon we’re dunking straight-up fudge in this stuff.  Since you’re going to have lots of sweet things to add to your drink, I strongly recommend you take the time to make your own hot chocolate (as opposed to using a pre-made mix).  That way you can control the sugar and keep it low so it’s not overly sweet with the add-ins.
Flavor it: Think of things you can both stir in and melt in.  Extracts and oils work great but keep a tiny spoon or dropper so people don’t add too much.  You can find a large assortment of flavored syrups in the coffee isle of the grocery store.  Also there are fantastic coffee creamers available during the holidays in all sorts of great flavors like gingerbread, peppermint, hazelnut, french vanilla, etc.  In addition to the normal flavors think of solid chocolate, peanut butter, nutella, etc.  Search through your pantry and fridge and be creative!
Top it:  Whip your own cream and you can add flavors and or colors.  Try cocoa powder for a chocolate whipped cream, or peppermint extract and pink food coloring for a candy cane twist.   Use spices, shavings, crushed candy or candy bars to add an extra touch.  Ice cream syrups like caramel and chocolate, or berry toppings are easy and show-stopping!
Stir it:  With all of these add-ins you’ll need something to stir with!  Try dipping spoons in caramel or chocolate and rolling in crushed candycanes or toffee and then let them harden.  Or use candy canes or cinnamon sticks for extra flavor.
You’ll notice in my pictures I have tiny cups!  That’s one of my best tips.  Use espresso cups (available for pretty reasonable prices, my set was under $10!) so people can try a few different flavors and enjoy the richness of a small serving.
Related Recipes
Hot Chocolate: I love Hershey’s classic recipe.  Use whole milk and decrease the sugar just a bit to allow for add-ins.
White Hot Chocolate: Melt 1 C white chocolate chips with 6 C whole milk and 1 tsp vanilla.
Chocolate Whipped Cream: add in a few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
Peppermint whipped cream: add in peppermint extract to taste and pink food coloring
Fudge: Here’s an easy recipe that has all of the ingredients of a good hot chocolate (just skip the nuts!)  Or for a less sweet option, just make super thick ganache.  Try this recipe and cut the cream down to about 1/4 cup.  You can make it with dark, bittersweet, semi sweet or milk chocolate.  Place in a small dish in the fridge to harden and then cut into cubes.
Marshmallows: Make your own and flavor with any extract your heart desires!
This just might be one of my most favorite posts ever- hope you enjoyed it!  If you’ve got a flavor combo in that head of yours, leave a comment below and share!

Here’s a video segment of these recipes, along with my s’mores hot chocolate, on Studio 5 tv.

Sara Wells
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

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