Homemade Hot Chocolate
Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate with (optional) hazelnut flavoring. This recipe is made stove top with a few simple pantry ingredients, which means you can have hot chocolate when you want it.
With this creamy, rich, delicious hot chocolate, that is so easy to make, you will be skipping the powdered packets for good.
Serve it with german pancake minis at breakfast, as a snack with some biscotti, or just cozy up with a mug after a day of sledding!
When it comes to cozy ways to cuddle up on winter nights, a steaming up of creamy hot chocolate is the way to go. And this homemade version is the best of the best. Especially when topped with fresh whipped cream.
Homemade Hot Chocolate is Easy
Sadly I have been victim to ignorance for too long when it comes to homemade hot chocolate. I was under the impression it was difficult, or at the very least time consuming to make, so I have opted for packets. And now I have seen the light.
You just have to toss a handful of real ingredients into a saucepan, and within a few minutes you will have a rich, creamy, delicious hot cocoa without the packet full of preservatives, etc.
Why I love it:
- Made with pantry ingredients.
- Can be customized to your liking.
- Made stove top in just a few minutes.
- Control the “junk” ingredients.
I love making homemade when homemade makes sense, but am a sucker for convenience. But when I look at all the junk in a cocoa packet, and how easy making your hot chocolate from scratch really is, I decided this is one time that homemade makes sense. It means skipping junk like corn-syrup solids and hydrogenated oils, and instead having control over what goes into my cocoa.
Homemade hot cocoa requires just a few pantry staples such as unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. And I use flavored syrups like Hazelnut Syrup to make it even more fun! But those are optional.
How to Make Hot Chocolate
There are a lot of methods out there for making hot chocolate, and a lot of opinions on whether or not you should combine chocolate and cocoa powder, just chocolate, or just cocoa powder.
I love the idea of the added creaminess you get from chocolate because it has butter fat, but find that I don’t always have it on hand, and would rather keep my homemade hot chocolate simple enough that it won’t feel like a stretch making it instead of using a just-add-water packet. So I remedy the creaminess issue with a little added heavy cream at the end. Half and half works too, or your favorite coffee creamer, and boy does it make things tasty!
Making cocoa from scratch:
- Combine cocoa powder and sugar together, and whisk. Put it in a saucepan.
- Add a little boiling water, and turn on the heat, and stir until the sugars are melted. It will be kind of thick, but don’t worry, this is easy and important.
- Once the sugars are melted, add your milk!
- Bring it to a simmer (not a boil).
- Remove from heat! Add in any flavor syrups you want to add, and some heavy cream to up the creaminess factor!
- Serve immediately, topped with your favorites: marshmallows, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, chocolate shavings, candy cane bits, or whatever else you love.
Customize the Cocoa
One of the best parts about making hot chocolate from scratch is that you can customize it to your liking. This recipe serves as a great starting point or base for making a creamy, ultra-delicious cocoa, but you have full control.
- Want flavored hot chocolate? Try a flavoring syrup like Torani, and make it peppermint, hazelnut, caramel flavored, or even a little espresso flavored.
- Want it extra rich? Add some extra heavy cream or half and half in the place of the milk. Or add some chopped up chocolate to it, not just cocoa powder.
- Want it healthier or lower fat? Use skim milk or a nut milk.
- Want it dairy free? Try almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk.
- Too sweet for your liking? Cut down on the sugar, or add more milk.
Tips for the Best Hot Cocoa
- Whisk the sugar and the cocoa powder together. This takes a few seconds and is worth the end results of not having any clumps, and getting a really nice texture.
- Wait to add the milk. Adding just a little bit of already heated water will help the sugars melt evenly and quicker, and stirring constantly while on medium heat will allow you to get a smooth end result that is delicious. And allows you to heat it enough without risking scorching your milk.
- Do NOT boil: This can cause you to scorch the milk, and that will impart a not so fun flavor to your cocoa.
- Add flavor at the end. For the strongest flavors, wait until you have removed your hot chocolate from the heat, as this will allow all the flavors to be incorporated, and none of it will cook off. It will be stronger and richer that way. I recommend Torani flavor syrups as they are high quality!
Hot Chocolate FAQ’s
Can hot chocolate be reheated?
Yes, you just need to make sure you don’t bring it to a boil. Again you don’t want to scorch your milk, so add it back into a saucepan, and heat up slowly, so it is simmering. You CAN use the microwave, but it is harder to control heat, so it is not recommended for making or reheating. But sometimes when I get busy, and forget to finish my mug, and it cools, I will pop it in for 20-30 seconds to reheat it.
How do I store leftover hot chocolate?
The chances of having leftovers are slim, but if you do, just let it cool, then put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay good for 2-3 days, and can be reheated stovetop when ready to drink.
Can I make substitutions?
Yes! Of course. The beauty of this recipe is it is easy to customize. As it is written is my favorite way to enjoy it, as it is creamy, and just the right amount of sweet. But if you want it dairy free, or lower fat, or lower sugar, you can tweak, adjust, and substitute. Leave a comment if you make a substitution so others can know how it goes, as I haven’t made it other ways.
Can this be made ahead?
Absolutely, reheating is simple, and done stove top. Another great option is to make it and transfer it to a crockpot to keep warm (without boiling). We have also used a thermos and taken it with us to play in the cold. One word of warning, is sometimes things settle a bit, so give it a good stir or shake before drinking it is sitting for more than half and hour or so before consuming.
Is there a difference between hot chocolate and cocoa?
Technically, yes. Hot chocolate is made with actual chocolate that is chopped and melted. And hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder. So, this is technically a hot cocoa recipe, but I use the term interchangeably, and find that most people do.
Toppings and Mix-ins for Homemade Hot Chocolate
One of my kid’s favorite parts of hot chocolate is the toppings. And the possibilities are endless and so fun! We love making a hot chocolate station or cocoa bar with a variety of toppings:
- Whipped cream
- Crushed candy canes or peppermint sticks
- Mini marshmallows or flavored marshmallows
- Coffee creamers or flavor syrups to change things up
- Chocolate chips
- Chocolate syrup
- Caramel syrup
Serve with your Cocoa
Video Tutorial for Making Hot Chocolate from Scratch:
Homemade Hot Chocolate - Hazelnut
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- Pinch Salt
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 ounce Torani French Vanilla Syrup
- 4 ounces Torani Hazelnut Syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- Whipped cream
- Torani Dark Chocolate Syrup
- Combine cocoa powder, white sugar, salt, and boiling water in a sauce pan, stirring well.
- Heat over medium heat, and stir until sugars are melted.
- Add milk to the sauce pan, and continue stirring, while bringing to a simmer. Do not boil. Let simmer 3-4 minutes, stirring throughout to avoid scorching the milk.
- Remove from heat.
- Add flavoring syrups, and heavy cream.
- Stir until well combined.
- Serve in mugs with whipped cream and a drizzle of dark chocolate syrup.
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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Ashley F says