Chocolate and cream – nothing wrong with that combo, especially when warmed and served in a mug on a cold winter’s day. Hot chocolate is a great classic as is, but what about adding a little flavor to switch things up? Something familiar, perhaps, like peppermint or maybe unexpected like chilies? If you want to get adventurous, here are some ideas for expanding your hot-chocolate repertoire. Start with a basic recipe and consider the following:
- Tea, coffee or hot chocolate? You don’t have to choose! Combine half a cup of coffee with half a cup of cocoa for a hot mocha or do the same with brewed black tea for a sophisticated hot beverage. Some flavored teas, like Earl Grey, are particularly delightful.
- Caramel is a hot flavor and a tablespoon of caramel sauce stirred into your hot chocolate is an easy way to liven up your usual hot chocolate recipe.
- Take a tip from your local coffee house. You know all those syrups that the baristas use? They’re great for hot chocolate, too! Try hazelnut, vanilla, pumpkin spice, almond, even banana or pomegranate!
- Peppermint and chocolate is a natural pairing and you can achieve a minty cool flavor in a few ways: Stir in peppermint extract to taste, add a shot of crème de menthe or peppermint schnapps, use a peppermint stick as a stirrer, or stir some crushed peppermint candies into your mug.
- Think about all the classic liqueur-enhanced caffeinated drinks. Why should coffee get all the fun? Try Amaretto, Grand Marnier, brandy, Frangelico or rum, to name a few.
- Go nuts. Stir in a tablespoon of peanut butter or Nutella into your hot chocolate.
- Get spicy! A sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg on top of your hot chocolate is an easy twist, but how about a pinch of chili powder or cayenne for a little kick? A combo of cinnamon and cayenne is a great duo.
Image: Peter Muka