Autumn means three things: pumpkin patches, apple pie, and hot chocolate (unless you’re an apple cider enthusiast, in which case, this article isn’t for you). Hot chocolate is a staple of the cold weather months, ready to fill you up with warmth, marshmallows, and ooey-gooey chocolate yumminess. But how do level up the normal packaged hot chocolate to make it extra decadent and movie night ready? Have no fear–here are some of my favorite tips for adding a little extra spice to your hot chocolate game.
1. Nutella Is The Magic Touch
We all know it already – Nutella is magic. It’s yummy, it’s addictive, and honestly, it goes on everything (I will not argue this point, it is pure truth). So why wouldn’t your hot chocolate game improve without a little touch of Nutella magic? But how do I smoothly add the sticky Nutella to my liquid hot chocolate? Simple. Put a spoonful of Nutella in your hot chocolate when it’s all hot and bubbly and fresh from the microwave. It’ll melt the Nutella while also giving your hot chocolate a deeper, fuller, more chocolatey flavor.
2. Try Making Flavored Homemade Whipped Cream
Let’s be clear: hot chocolate isn’t really hot chocolate without the whipped cream and marshmallows. These are classic toppings and must be considered essential for all hot chocolatey endeavors. But how do you give your whipped cream that little extra punch? Try making it yourself and adding some extra flavor! All you need is 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon of your extract of choice. Traditionally, you would use vanilla, but feel free to go crazy with peppermint, maple, or even almond. Put all your ingredients in a bowl and mix until stiff peaks form. And voilà, the perfect whipped cream for the perfect cocoa drink!
3. Add A Little Extract
Extract doesn’t just have to be relegated to your whipped cream and cookie recipes–it can also go in your hot chocolate as well! You don’t want to use a lot–1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon is enough depending on your hot chocolate batch size. But adding extract will take the flavor of your hot chocolate from plain and traditional to “wow, this is the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my entire life.” The only real struggle is not telling everyone who drinks it that it came from a package.
4. Spice, Spice, Spice It Up
No extract for your hot chocolate? No problem! Adding a little bit of spice you have sitting around in your spice cabinet is more than enough to add a little extra flavor to your cocoa. There’s pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and apple pie spice – all good, yummy choices. But, if you want to get a little extra wild, try adding a dash of cayenne to make it a little more “Red Hot” in flavor. Obviously not too much, though, or you could turn your hot chocolate from yummy to “where’s the milk?”
5. Time To Add A Little Extra Liqueur
Your hot chocolate recipe is the perfect time to get a little boozy on a night in. We add it to our coffee all the time – grab a little Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur and you’ll have a caffeine AND booze buzz. So why not put some in your hot cocoa? Some interesting liquors and liqueurs to try in your next party batch are Kahlua, whiskey, bourbon, and, of course, Irish Cream. And don’t be afraid of the flavored liqueurs either – remember, we’re changing up the game this year.
6. Have Fun With Your Marshmallow Game
Much liked whipped cream, marshmallows are a classic staple of the traditional hot chocolate recipe. And while we all love our mini marshmallows melt in our cups and our mouths, there are way too many types of marshmallows out there not to try and spice it up. So next time your buying your hot chocolate supplies, go for the flavored marshmallows, the weirdly shaped marshmallows, or heck, even the colorful marshmallows. Will your mouth turn green? Probably. Will it be worth it? Most definitely.
7. Don’t Be Afraid Of Flavored Syrups
If you haven’t thought about syrups in your hot chocolate, you’re about to. Having a variety of syrups available will absolutely change your hot chocolate game, adding an extra layer of sticky, gooey decadence to your favorite holiday drink. Whether you go for the traditional chocolate and caramel or try something new like strawberry or butterscotch, adding a touch of syrup to your cocoa will be the yummiest decision you make this year.
8. A Touch Of Caffeine Makes The Heart Beat Faster
I don’t know why I never considered it before, but adding coffee to your hot chocolate is a surefire way to make the yummiest drink alive (and have the warmest belly). For those of us who love coffee, there’s nothing it doesn’t go with – ice cream? Check. Alcohol? Check. Hot chocolate? Check, check, check. By adding a dash of coffee to your cocoa, you create a mocha-flavored, caffeine enriched, happy drink for the holidays.
9. You Can’t Go Wrong With More Chocolate
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the best topping for hot cocoa is MORE CHOCOLATE. We’ve already established that Nutella is a must, but there are also other ways to create more depth to your cocoa game, whether it’s adding in a spoonful of baking cocoa or topping your drink with some yummy chocolate shavings. You can also play with what kind of chocolate you add: do you like milk, white, or dark chocolate? Honestly, it won’t matter–they’re all amazing choices.
10. Make It Zesty
One of my favorite pairings is citrus and chocolate – blood orange chocolate bars have my whole heart. So when I discovered the yummy goodness that comes from adding a little orange zest in my hot chocolate, my whole world was changed (that might be an exaggeration, but you get the jist). A touch of orange or lemon zest will level up your hot chocolate and make you feel classy and extra in all the best possible ways.