This hot cocoa is not only creamy, chocolate-y, and comforting, but it also contains a lot of superfoods to make you feel amazing. It’s vegan, and can easily be made nut-free and sugar-free
The only memory I have of my dad in the kitchen was on Saturday mornings. He would set a pot of cold milk on the stove, turn the heat to high, and then went back to bed with his newspaper. The milk always over-boiled and spilled all over the stove. The sizzling sound would get my dad’s attention. He would spring out of bed and run to the kitchen as fast as he could to save what was left. If there was still enough milk in the pot, he would mix in Nestle Quick, and make hot chocolate. At least that’s what he used to call it. In fact, that’s what everyone in my family called it. But as it turns out, it wasn’t actually hot chocolate.
Even though the terms are used interchangeably, the two beverages are not identical. Hot cocoa usually contains cocoa powder, milk, and sugar. It tends to be sweet and light in body – think instant packets of Swiss Miss. Hot chocolate, on the other hand, is made by finely chopping or grinding solid chocolate and then melting it into hot water, milk, or even cream. There’s usually no sugar added (it’s less sweet than hot cocoa), and it’s very rich and creamy. The famous Café Angelina in Paris prides themselves on their version of chocolat chaud, super rich in flavor and very thick in texture, almost pudding-like.
Although hot cocoa is the sweeter drink, both hot chocolate and hot cocoa are full of sugar. So neither is really healthier than the other. European hot chocolate tends to be relatively thick and rich, while in the United States the thinner instant version of hot cocoa is more popular. Personally, I make hot cocoa at home way more often than hot chocolate.
Tips for Making Hot Cocoa
Hot cocoa is extremely easy to make. All you need is cocoa powder (ideally Dutch-processed for a less acidic flavor), sweetener (I like maple syrup but any sweetener works here), and plant milk.
To make this recipe a little more interesting and nutritious, I add adaptogens to the mix. If you’re not familiar with adaptogens, they are a group of herbs, roots, and mushrooms that support the body’s ability to deal with stress. (1) They are called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to the specific needs of the body. All adaptogens taste differently, but generally they have a pungent, bitter, and earthy flavor. So, start with small quantities and work your way up to more. (I personally think that the earthiness of the adaptogenic mushrooms I used in this hot cocoa pairs really nicely with both chocolate and coffee flavors).
If you’d like to introduce more flavors, you can add cinnamon or vanilla. If you like spiced hot cocoa, you can add a little bit of cayenne pepper or ginger. A pinch of sea salt to bring out the flavor of chocolate, and that’s it!
You can make hot cocoa either on the stove or in the blender. I prefer the blender for a few reasons.
First, if you’re using homemade almond milk, it thickens as you heat it up. If you cook the milk for too long, it thickens quite considerably. So, I prefer heating the milk in the blender or heating it on the stove only slightly. However, if you make the hot cocoa on the stove and it thickens too much, you can always add more plant milk to thin it out.
Second, when using a blender, you don’t have to worry about the cocoa powder or the adaptogens not mixing in properly. You know, when you want to mix a powder with liquid and the powder kind of just floats on top. So, if you’re using the stove, mix all the dry ingredients with just a small part of the milk, creating a thick mixture. You can then dilute the thick mixture with the rest of the liquid.
More Hot Cocoa Recipes
If you enjoy rich flavors and thick consistency, you might prefer hot chocolate to hot cocoa. Hot chocolate is basically like drinking a melted candy bar; the chopped chocolate contains cocoa butter which makes it richer and smoother.
In the hot summer months, frozen hot chocolate wins! It’s thick, frothy, and of course chocolate-y.
If you try this recipe, please, let me know! Leave a comment, share your feedback, rate the recipe. It always means a lot when you do.
Tools You’ll Need
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- 1 1/4 cups almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. concentrated mushroom powder*
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- maple syrup (or sweetener of choice), to taste
- Warm the milk. Add the almond milk into a small saucepan and heat it over medium heat until warm.
- Blend. Add all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth and frothy.
- Taste and adjust the flavor as needed, adding more cocoa powder for a more chocolate-y flavor, maple syrup for sweetness, and cinnamon for a sweet-spicy flavor with a woody fragrance.
- Serve hot or warm, straight out of the blender.
- Store. Leftover hot cocoa keeps well in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- Reheat in a small saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.
**Nutrition information is calculated using 1 Tbsp./15 ml maple syrup.
**Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.