Catherine Horng / Sun Contributor

December 1, 2017

Homemade Hot Chocolate: More Than Hot Water and Cocoa Powder

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p class=”p1″>Ithaca has had its first snowfall; Thanksgiving break is over, and finals are within reach. So it’s official: the holiday season is finally here. I’ve got my Spotify winter playlist on full blast, my snowflake pajamas on and a blanket draped over me to protect me from the icy wind blowing down the windows. The only thing I’m missing is a warm, steaming cup of hot chocolate.

Personally, I’m a little sick of that packet hot cocoa — the kind that you just add hot water or milk to and clumps up at the bottom of your mug. It’s good, but it lacks that creamy, luxurious feel you get from hot cocoa served at a restaurant. So for those of you who are also craving something a little more than hot water and cocoa powder, here’s a simple recipe to get you through those cold winter nights.

Serves: 1 (but can easily be scaled up)


  • 1.5 oz. dark chocolate
  • 2–3 tbsps. sugar (adjust to your taste)
  • 1½ cups milk (use whole milk for an extra-indulgent treat)
  • Marshmallows (optional)


  1. Heat up the milk in a microwave or on the stove top until just simmering.
  2. Chop or break the chocolate into small pieces and put in a mug.
  3. Add sugar to your taste to the chopped chocolate.
  4. Pour over about a quarter of the hot milk into the mug.
  5. Let it sit for about 5 minutes to let the chocolate melt, then stir to melt it completely. (This allows the chocolate to incorporate into the milk more easily, eliminating unsightly chunks from your hot cocoa.)
  6. Pour in the rest of the milk and stir again.
  7. Top with marshmallows and enjoy!


  • Watch the milk when heating it up. Milk has a tendency to boil over very quickly.
  • When pouring in the second addition of milk, I do it slowly and stir along the way.

Now, if you’re really sick of drinking plain hot chocolate, here’s a few variations I like to try.


  • Use chocolates with caramel inside to make a caramel hot chocolate.
  • Add a sprinkle of cinnamon to the chocolate to add a little bit more warmth.
  • Use white chocolate instead of dark for a white hot chocolate.
  • Stir the cocoa with a candy cane to make peppermint hot cocoa.
  • Add a dash of sea salt for salted hot chocolate.
  • Add a shot of coffee for mocha hot chocolate.
  • Zest a little bit of orange for the classic chocolate-orange combo.