Few beverages are as deeply-rooted in my childhood memories as hot chocolate. It’s a drink that reminds me of cold snowy days. It’s like a warm hug that brings a smile more so than drinking a cup of hot tea or coffee. Thick, silky, and rich-tasting. So today, I’m sharing with you a recipe for vegan hot chocolate with simple ingredients you most likely have on hand right now.
Growing up, the only time I got to drink hot chocolate was on a Christmas Day. My parents would get together with a couple of their closest friends (and their kids) from our neighborhood and we would all go skating – not on a skating ring, but a frozen damn. All the snow shoveling (preceding the actual skating), repetitive falls on the skates, and long belly laughs made everyone not only tired, but also thirsty. And so when our cheeks were bright red and our hands frozen as ice, somebody would pull out a huge thermos filled with homemade hot chocolate.
This was no ordinary hot chocolate. It was made with real chocolate and milk (no hot chocolate mixes made from cocoa powder and hot water). Also, there were always cinnamon sticks served with it. Of course, the cinnamon stick was intended as a spice for the chocolate, but we kids used it as a straw. In my memories, this was the best hot chocolate ever.
So, you can probably imagine that I’m pretty picky when it comes to hot chocolate. Too many vegan hot chocolate recipes are too watery, too bland, too sweet, not-chocolaty enough. I’ve tried so many. So I came up with my own vegan hot chocolate that is just the way I like it. It’s so simple that it’s almost a non-recipe.
Tips for Making Vegan Hot Chocolate
The number one ingredient in any hot chocolate is real chocolate. You can find many recipes that differ from one another, but the main ingredients of any hot chocolate are chocolate and milk (or cream). There’s no right or wrong when it comes to choosing the actual chocolate. The easiest way to choose the right chocolate is to use the one you enjoy eating. It can be dark, milk, or white, depending on how sweet you prefer your drink to be.
I’ve experimented with different plant-based milks for making vegan hot chocolate, but keep coming back to plain almond milk. There are two reasons for that. First, I find the taste of almond milk the least noticeable in the hot chocolate. And second, I can make it as thick as I want to. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can check out my recipe for homemade almond milk. Essentially, bringing homemade almond milk to just under a boil for a few minutes permanently increases its viscosity. If you boil the almond milk long enough, it becomes cream. So you can make your hot chocolate as thick as you want without any additives.
The high quality ingredients are definitely worth the splurge. But if you want to make hot chocolate more often and not spend a fortune, I would recommend adding some cocoa powder and a sweetener in place of some of the chocolate. Not all, but some. I like using Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa powder and maple syrup.
Finally, there are countless possibilities of things to add on top of hot chocolate. I like to serve my hot chocolate with a little bit of coconut whipped cream so that the cold cream mixes in with the hot chocolate and gives it a luscious creamy effect. Sprinkle it with a little bit of cinnamon and you have a delicious hot chocolate.
Fortunately, the perfect hot chocolate doesn’t require any special equipment; as long as you have a stove, a whisk, and a sauce pot, you’re on your way.
As I’ve already mentioned, homemade almond milk changes its consistency when it’s exposed to heat. So if you want your hot chocolate to be on the thicker side, bring the almond milk to a gentle rolling boil and keep stirring until it reaches the thickness you like. Just be careful – the almond milk thickens very quickly. If it thickens too much, you can always add more fresh milk to thin it out.
I bet there has been a time when you tried mixing some type of powder with liquid and the powder just wouldn’t mix in. Instead, it would kind of just float on top. The trick is to mix all the powder (cocoa) with just a small part of the liquid (almond milk), creating a thick mixture. You can then dilute the thick mixture with the rest of the liquid.
Tools You’ll Need
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