Who does not love a delicious Hot Chocolate on a chilly day ? While many classic recipes are made with unsweetened cocoa powder, this recipe for homemade hot chocolate is made with real chocolate, milk (non-dairy if needed), and vanilla. Top it with a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream or a homemade Vanilla Marshmallow.
I don't mind using premade hot chocolate packets in some of my recipes, like my Hot Cocoa Snack Cake, but when it comes to drinking I want the real deal. You will be surprised how easy it is to make the best hot chocolate at home with just a few simple ingredients.
- Recipe Ingredient Notes
- Which Chocolate is the best for Hot Chocolate?
- Ethical Sourcing of Chocolate
- How to identify ethical sourced chocolate at the grocery store
- How to make the Best Homemade Hot Chocolate
- Hot Chocolate Toppings and Add-Ins
- Frequently asked questions for Hot Chocolate
- Baking in grams
- Note about Ovens and Oven Temperatures
- Substitutions and Modifications
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Chocolate: Make sure you use the best chocolate you can find (or have in your pantry) for this amazing treat. This is hot cocoa recipe is a fabulous way to use one of the artisan chocolate bars you have in your pantry. I use a blend of bittersweet chocolate (64%) and milk chocolate when I make Hot Chocolate. Using dark and milk chocolate in this recipe is a personal preference.
Milk: Hot Chocolate can be made with whole, 2% or skim milk. Whole milk will give you the creamiest hot chocolate. Unsweetened non-dairy milk such as almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, or even coconut milk also works fabulously in this recipe.
Salt: A little pinch of kosher salt will mute the bitterness found in some chocolate. This allows the other flavors to come through more strongly by comparison.
Which Chocolate is the best for Hot Chocolate?
Chocolate is a very complex topic but it shouldn’t be an intimidating one. Grocery stores and even houseware stores such as Sur La Table and William Sonoma have started carrying a selection of artisan chocolates. While I pick my wine by the pretties label, I do not recommend this tactic when it comes to chocolate. Here are 5 things to remember when buying chocolate in general.
- Buy the best quality chocolate you can afford
- Read the ingredients – less is more!
- Avoid products with phrases such as “chocolatey” and “made with chocolate”
- If you don’t enjoy the product on its own, don’t bake with it.
- Check if a company uses ethically sourced cocoa.
First and foremost, buy the best-quality chocolate you can afford. If the chocolate is the main ingredient, like in this recipe for Homemade Hot Chocolate, you should spend a bit more if you can. Store brand does not always mean the product is low-quality. I am a big fan of Aldi’s Specially Selected 62% Dark Chocolate Chunks and Trader Joe’s Pound Plus products.
Read the ingredients. When it comes to chocolate, less really is more. If a product states words like "chocolatey" or "made with chocolate", please skip it. The main ingredients of chocolate should be
- cocoa (maybe also listed as cocoa, cacao, cocoa mass, cocoa liquor, or cocoa solids)
- milk (in milk chocolate, white, and some dark chocolate)
- emulsifier (soy lecithin or sunflower lecithin)
- flavorings such as vanilla.
And last but not least: If you wouldn’t eat it on its own, you probably won’t want to make Hot Chocolate or any other recipe with it.
Ethical Sourcing of Chocolate
Ethical chocolate means that the chocolate has been grown, farmed, and produced with the planet in mind and the company has treated the cocoa growers and farmers fairly.
A few brands that are widely available and use ethically sourced cocoa are Guittard, Valrhona, and my favorite Austrian hometown hero Zotter. Things to look for on websites are: where do they source their products from, do they talk about sustainability, what do they say about their cocoa farmers?
It's important to mention that organic does not mean ethically sourced.
How to identify ethical sourced chocolate at the grocery store
A few common symbols you may have seen on chocolates before including the Fairtrade Logo, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Fair for Life, and Certified B Corporations.
Fairtrade (top left)
Fairtrade International believes that there can be sustainable development that benefits the world’s poorest if the trade is equitable and has transparency. There are many versions of the Fair Trade Certified logo including a Fairtrade International and Fairtrade USA logo. Guittard Chocolate is one of many chocolates Fairtrade Certified
Rainforest Alliance Certified (top right)
The Rainforest Alliance certification seal means that the product (or a specified ingredient) was produced by farmers, foresters, and/or companies working together to create a world where people and nature thrive in harmony. Endangered Species Chocolate for example is Rainforest Alliance certified.
Fair for Life (bottom left)
“Fair for Life” is a brand-neutral third-party certification program for social accountability and fair trade in agricultural, manufacturing, and trading operations. Theo Chocolate is Fair for Life certified
Certified B Corporations (bottom right)
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Valrhona is a Certified B Corporation.
How to make the Best Homemade Hot Chocolate
You will not believe how simple this great recipe for homemade hot chocolate is.
Start out by chopping your chocolate - especially if you use an Artisan Chocolate Bar, make sure to give it a good chop so it will melt quicker.
Heat your milk of choice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the milk is warm, remove it from the heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate until it’s melted. If you would like a thick hot chocolate return to very low heat and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn it or over-boil it. Add a splash of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt (which will bring out the chocolate flavor)
Sweeten with brown sugar or maple syrup if desired but if you add some homemade marshmallows and extra chocolate shavings, there is no need for additional sugar.
Hot Chocolate Toppings and Add-Ins
Toppings are a fun and delicious way to jazz up a cup of hot chocolate. Whether are making a cup of hot cocoa for a treat on a snowy day or want to turn this into a hot cocoa bar for a party, here are a few of my favorite toppings.
- Homemade Marshmallows or Mini Marshmallows (make sure store bought marshmallows are gluten-free)
- a generous dollop of whipped cream (of course homemade made with heavy cream and some powdered sugar)
- homemade caramel sauce (add some to the hot chocolate and of course also for topping)
- small pieces of toffee (such as Heath Bars)
- dark chocolate sauce (check out my Bourbon Fudge Sauce)
- mini chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips
- crushed up candy canes (especially during the holiday season)
Frequently asked questions for Hot Chocolate
Adding a small addition of liquor is a fun way to level up your hot chocolate. I would stick with 1 to 1 ½ ounces of liquor but it is up to you. Basically, any liquor will work but here are a few recommendations: Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlúa, Spiced Rum, and even Red Wine. (Please drink responsibly and do not serve spiked hot chocolate to minors)
Perk up the milk with some spices like some cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne pepper, or some Chinese five spice for a little extra kick. Add the spices while the milk is heating up. I try to stick around ½-1 teaspoon. (less if it's something like cayenne pepper)
Hot Chocolate is best enjoyed when made fresh. You can store any leftovers in the refrigerator. This easy hot chocolate recipe can be made in less than 10 minutes.
Buy the best chocolate you can afford. As mentioned before, Aldi and Trader Joe's sell some very good, high-quality chocolate bars (yes, I know who produces many of them... trust me on this one). I also like to scan the candy aisle at your grocery store.
Totally - make the hot chocolate as directed and cool it completely. You can serve it over ice or blend it with some ice.
Baking in grams
I share my recipes in grams and by weight since baking by weight is the most accurate way to bake. Digital Scales are very affordable and very affordable. You can purchase them on Amazon for less than a set of measuring cups. Measuring cups are very inaccurate and can cause significant errors when it comes to gluten-free baking or baking in general. Especially since I bake with gluten-free flours which weigh differently than “regular” flours. I do provide some ingredients like spices and leavening agents in measuring spoons. To learn more about Baking with a digital scale, make sure to check out my post about Baking by weight.
Note about Ovens and Oven Temperatures
All my recipes are tested and developed with a conventional oven. I always bake my baked goods on the rack placed in the MIDDLE of my oven. This way the heat coming from the bottom will not burn my baked goods.
If you are baking with convection (fan-forced), please adjust the recipes accordingly. Be also prepared that the convection oven can cause your baked goods to dry out quickly and still be raw inside. Be aware that it takes at least 15-20 minutes for a standard American Oven to be fully preheated. I highly recommend investing in an Oven Thermometer.
Substitutions and Modifications
Any dietary or ingredient modifications/substitutions to this recipe may alter the end result in appearance and taste. I test my recipes several times as published in this post and The Gluten Free Austrian Blog is not responsible for the outcome of any recipe you find on our website.
Best Homemade Hot Chocolate
- 500 grams whole milk
- 140 grams dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 70 grams milk chocolate, finely chopped
- pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla (optional)
Hot Chocolate Toppings
- homemade Vanilla Marshmallow, chocolate shavings, whipped cream - whatever your heart desires!
How to make Hot Chocolate
- Finely chop your chocolate of choice
- Heat milk in a medium-size pot.
- Once the milk is warm, remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until it’s melted.
- If you would like a thick hot chocolate return to a very low heat and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn it or over-boil it.
- Sweeten with brown sugar if desired but if you add some homemade marshmallows and extra chocolate shavings, there is no need for additional sugar.
- Serve warm!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 250
Calories are a guestimate.