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Need a cozy pick-me-up after facing winter's chill? These hot chocolate recipes put a unique twist on the traditional drink.

Spice up your hot cocoa: The best hot chocolate recipes for winter

Hot chocolate is the perfect drink for staying warm in the winter. There’s nothing like coming inside to a fresh cup of cocoa after being out in the chilly weather. The warm beverage is fun to sip while watching a holiday movie or while just looking out the window at the beautiful snow.

Sure, you could make the yummy drink by using an already packaged powder, but it’s more fun to make it homemade using hot chocolate recipes. Here are some hot chocolate recipes to help you put a unique twist on the traditional drink:

Creamy hot chocolate

Many hot chocolate recipes call for a lot of ingredients for those wanting to add interesting flavors to their cocoa, but sometimes you just want a standard hot chocolate. Here’s a recipe for those who like hot chocolate with nothing else in it, but enjoy a creamy texture.


¾ cup white sugar, 1 pinch salt, ⅓ cup boiling water, 3 ½ cups milk, ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ cup half & half, and ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder.


  1. Combine cocoa, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water and bring the mixture to an easy boil. Simmer and stir for two minutes, being careful it doesn’t scorch.
  2. Stir in the milk and heat until it gets really hot, but don’t let it get to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  4. Pour it in mugs, then add the half & half.

French hot chocolate

Standard hot chocolate recipes don’t have the decadent flavors of French hot chocolate. What makes French hot chocolate so special is the dark European chocolate used. This recipe will offer flavors similar to those in French cafes.


1 ½ cups milk, ½ cup heavy cream, 2 teaspoons powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon espresso powder, 8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (at least seventy percent), and some whipped cream.


  1. Whisk together milk, heavy cream, espresso powder, and powdered sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat it until small bubbles appear along the edges. Be careful not to let it boil.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until it all melts.
  3. It’s ready to be served and topped with whipped cream.

Vanilla mocha hot chocolate

Some people like more complex hot chocolate recipes. This recipe is perfect for those who want to add flavors of vanilla & mocha to their hot chocolate.


4 ½ cups whole or nut milk, ⅓ cup real maple syrup, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 6 ounces chopped semi-sweet or dark chocolate, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder, 1 pinch salt, whipped cream, and grated nutmeg or cinnamon.


  1. Add the milk, cocoa powder, vanilla, coffee powder, chocolate, maple syrup, and salt to a large pot.
  2. Place the pot over medium low heat until the milk is scalding. Be careful not to let it boil. Stir the pot regularly to make sure the mixture doesn’t start to stick to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Serve the cocoa and top with whipped cream.

Peppermint hot chocolate

Some people like the wintery taste of peppermint, and they want the flavor to be part of their hot chocolate recipes. Here is a recipe that incorporates peppermint into hot chocolate beyond just sticking a candy cane in the mug.


1 cup milk, ¼ cup heavy cream, 1 or 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, pinch of salt, 3 ounces finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, and ⅛ teaspoon peppermint extract.


  1. Whisk together milk, sugar, heavy cream, salt, peppermint extract, and vanilla extract in a pot. 
  2. Heat the mixture on medium low heat until bubbles appear on the edges of the pot.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate melts and the substance thickens. This usually takes one or two minutes.
  4. Pour the hot chocolate into mugs and serve.

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