This spiced hot cocoa recipe combines cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise to create a warm and comfortable drink full of comforting flavors.
Once the weather turned cold, I began to crave all the hot drinks offered by Starbucks and Tim Horton. Those hot cocoa, spice chocolate and fine coffee always sound so tempting!
I mean, who doesn’t want Caramel Brûlé Latte or Candy Cane hot chocolate?
Oops, I even drink a pumpkin spice latte occasionally, although I think it tastes more like a candle than a coffee drink…
I’m sure this has something to do with the way these drinks are marketed, but drinking them makes me feel like I’m actively participating in this season, whether it’s autumn or Christmas.
The problem is that these drinks contain sugar.
A cup of caramel caramel latte from Starbucks contains 2% milk and whipped cream, and contains 42 grams of sugar. For reference, this is more than just a can of Coke (at least in Canada).
Although I like these two drinks occasionally, I know I can’t indulge in them often (no one really should, but I have pre-diabetes, so I have to be careful).
In addition, the coffee shop drinks are not cheap, so I need a better choice.
That’s why I came up with this spiced hot cocoa recipe.
In fact, I have never made cocoa from scratch before… I always use a good hot cocoa mix, such as Camino’s original dark hot chocolate powder or Godiva’s hot cocoa mix.
But once you know what to do, making hot cocoa from scratch is actually easy.
Short note: I know these terms are often used interchangeably, but since this recipe is made with cocoa powder instead of grated chocolate, I call it spicy hot cocoa instead of spicy hot chocolate.
What kind of cocoa powder should you use?
First, I used cocoa powder processed in the Netherlands. It sounds fancy, but it’s not.
Fry’s cocoa powder is famous in Canada and is processed in the Netherlands. Camino also has its own version.
All the Dutch processing does is raise the pH of the cocoa to 7 (neutral) or 8 (alkaline/alkaline), resulting in a mild (less bitter) taste.
My friend Janice from Kitchen Heals Soul wrote an entire article about when to use Dutch processed cocoa powder. If you are interested in learning more, you can check it out.
How much sugar should you add?
I used a 1:1 ratio of cocoa powder to sugar in this recipe because it creates the sweetness of hot cocoa that most people want.
When I made this myself, I reduced the sugar a bit because I prefer hot cocoa to be less sweet. A pinch of salt can help improve the flavor, but you can leave it out if you want.
How to dissolve cocoa powder:
Technically, you can throw all the ingredients into the pot, mix, heat, and call it a day. I did this the first time I tested this recipe, and it turned out great.
However, I noticed on Fry’s cocoa can that they recommend dissolving the cocoa and sugar in a small amount of cold milk before adding the hot milk, so I tried it.
I found that by first dissolving the cocoa and sugar in a little cold milk, the hot cocoa obtained is smoother and blends well. So, if you have time, try to perform the extra steps and see if it helps you.
Another point to note is that once you take it off the fire, you may leave a layer of skin or film on your cocoa.
This is normal and often happens when you heat the milk and then cool it again without stirring. It is related to the protein in milk, you can read about it in this article about Kitchn milk skin.
If this movie bothers you, you can skip it. I just stir it back into the drink and it usually melts (but I don’t mind leaving any clumps).
How to add spices to cocoa:
- Cinnamon and nutmeg are classic warming spices. If you only have these on hand, you can use them and still have a very good cup of cocoa.
- I have been thinking of adding star anise to chocolate recipes for some time, and I think it works well in spiced hot cocoa.
- Remember, the longer the star anise is left there, the stronger the flavor.
- 15 minutes will give you a mild licorice flavor, 2 hours will produce a pleasant but stronger flavor.
- But I will not leave it there overnight because the drink may become bitter.
Without some spices, this would not be a spiced hot cocoa recipe!
The best ingredients for spiced hot cocoa:
The best part of hot cocoa (or hot chocolate) is the toppings! I am a whipped cream myself, but I will not refuse some mini marshmallows. It’s really nice to sprinkle with cocoa and/or cinnamon powder, or you can stir the whole thing with candy canes and see if it suits you. (I sometimes stir my orange pekoe tea with candy canes around Christmas-this is great!)