A rich & creamy homemade hot chocolate ready in under 10 minutes! Made with real chocolate - semisweet & bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder & vanilla. This is the best homemade hot chocolate recipe!
There's nothing better than a mug full of homemade hot chocolate when it's chilly outside. This is a thick, rich, and creamy hot chocolate made with a generous amount of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate. It's finished with whipped cream, marshmallows, and drizzled with chocolate syrup!
This can be made in advance and reheated later. See the reheating instructions below in the recipe.
Rich & Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate
Homemade hot chocolate is a delicious treat but how do you make it better? Use real, high quality chocolate. High quality chocolate has a high percentage of cocoa and uses smooth, nicely melting cocoa butter for even melting and silky texture.
Difference between Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate
The difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate is the addition of real chocolate. Hot cocoa is usually made solely with cocoa powder whereas hot chocolate is made with real chocolate and sometimes also cocoa powder.
This makes hot chocolate richer and creamier than hot cocoa because of the additional fat content found in cocoa butter, which is an ingredient in real chocolate. Hot cocoa is therefore a thinner consistency because of the absence of real chocolate.
Ingredients for Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate:
I used the following types of dark chocolate:
- bittersweet chocolate - high percentage of cocoa, less sweet than semisweet chocolate, bold chocolate flavor
- semisweet chocolate - moderate percentage of cocoa, sweeter than semisweet chocolate but less sweet than milk chocolate
I used two 4oz bars of dark chocolate in total and chopped them into small pieces so they'll melt faster. You can certainly use chocolate chips if you have them on hand. A 4oz bar of chocolate is a little under 1 cup so you can substitute that same amount of chocolate chips.
If you use milk chocolate or white chocolate, I recommend reducing or omitting the sugar as those chocolates have more sugar than dark chocolate. Taste to see if it needs more sweetness as you can always add more.
Cocoa Powder (Dutch Processed)
Dutch processed cocoa powder enhances the flavors of the hot chocolate and gives it a smoother finish compared to regular cocoa powder. Regular cocoa powder tastes slightly tart and acidic because cocoa beans are naturally tart and acidic. Dutch processed cocoa powder is alkalized to remove that acidity which gives it a smoother finish and more mild chocolate taste.
- the base of the hot chocolate
- you can substitute with any milk of your choice
- heavy cream makes this hot chocolate creamy and rich
- you can substitute half and half for a thinner hot chocolate
Why add cornstarch in hot chocolate? Cornstarch acts as a thickening agent and gives this homemade hot chocolate a silky, smooth texture. If you prefer hot chocolate slightly thick and creamy, be sure to add cornstarch. Otherwise, the hot chocolate will be thinner in consistency.
How to Make Homemade Hot Chocolate
Keep stirring after adding the chopped chocolate. It will look grainy at first but will become silky and smooth after about a minute of stirring as the chocolate melts into the milk.
Once the chocolate pieces have completely melted and the hot chocolate thickens, it's ready to serve. Pour it into your mugs and top them with your favorite toppings!
Homemade Hot Chocolate Toppings and Flavorings
You can add the following toppings and flavorings to this homemade hot chocolate:
- whipped cream
- chocolate syrup
- salted caramel syrup
- crushed peppermint candy
- peppermint extract
- vanilla extract
- instant espresso powder
Hot Chocolate Mix as Gifts
You can certainly add the dry ingredients in a mason jar and make this an edible gift during the holidays or as part of a care package during the colder months. This makes a fantastic gift for anyone feeling under the weather and is a warm, comforting drink to have when it's chilly out. They also make amazing parting gifts to hand out at a Christmas party.
I suggest adding the dry ingredients one by one so you can see the individual layers and adding a card with the recipe for how much milk, cream, and vanilla to add.
Storing and Reheating Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate can be made in a day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, place it on the stovetop over low heat and stir it constantly until it's warmed through. This is to ensure it doesn't form a skin on top which would add graininess to the hot chocolate. Be careful not to boil the hot chocolate as it can end up curdling the milk.
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Rich and Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate
- 3 ½ cups whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 oz bar of bittersweet chocolate* chopped, slightly under 1 cup
- 4 oz bar of semisweet chocolate* chopped, slightly under 1 cup
- 2 Tablespoons dutch processed cocoa powder*
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon sugar optional, depending on taste
- whipped cream
- chocolate syrup
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of instant espresso powder
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- Add the cornstarch to the milk and whisk it together until there are no more lumps. Next add the milk, heavy cream, and cocoa powder to a pot heated over medium low heat. Stir constantly so a skin doesn't form on top of the milk. You can add in any additional spices at this time.
- Once you start to see steam rising and little bubbles forming on the sides of the pot, remove the pot from the heat. Do not let this boil as the milk will curdle and the hot chocolate will get grainy. Add the chopped chocolate and vanilla to the pot and stir constantly until the chocolate completely melts through. It will look grainy in the beginning but it will become smooth and silky. Add sugar to taste. You may not need additional sugar.
- Serve immediately and add your toppings.
- You can substitute chocolate chips instead of chocolate bars. A 4oz bar of chocolate is a little under 1 cup so you can substitute that same amount of chocolate chips.
- If using milk chocolate or white chocolate, I recommend reducing or omitting the sugar as those chocolates have more sugar than dark chocolate. Add according to taste.
- Dutch processed cocoa powder is alkalized to remove the natural acidity of regular cocoa powder. Dutch process cocoa powder gives this a smoother finish and more mild chocolate taste. Regular cocoa powder can certainly be used as well.
- Hot chocolate can be made in a day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Place a layer of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
- To reheat, place it on the stovetop over low heat and stir it constantly until it's warmed through. This is to ensure it doesn't form a skin on top which would add graininess to the hot chocolate.
- Be careful not to boil the hot chocolate as it can end up curdling the milk.
- To avoid forming a skin, keep a tight lid on the crock pot and keep it closed at all times, except for serving.
- Before and after serving, give the hot chocolate a quick stir.
- The skin forms as a result of surface evaporation and the proteins in the milk solidifying. Keeping the surface moist should help prevent a skin from forming.
- Be sure to keep the setting on warm and avoid boiling the hot chocolate.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.