There is something about winter cold and fireplace heat that instructs a parent to go make hot chocolate. Cocoa was the name for it where I grew up. For an unknown reason cocoa, which was the hot version of chocolate milk, was nevertheless always referred to as “hot cocoa.” As if it could be cold and still be cocoa.
“Hot chocolate” makes more sense. Chocolate milk, heated, is hot. No room there for confusion. But however it is called, the drink is a childhood favorite and a go-to comfort drink in most families.
Ah, but hot chocolate has another side. Ever consider cocoa a party drink? A mixed alcohol or tasty martini or snappy whiskey concoction? The adult version of the childhood favorite has all the ingredients for happy. It is chocolate, among the happiest of tastes in my opinion.
In addition to being heated, it is infused with the warmth of alcohol, with its many subtle flavors and feel-good effects. It is easy to make for any occasion, but is especially suited for special occasions, like celebrations or Valentine’s Day.
You can savor the hot chocolate from your childhood and bring it into your grown-up life with these recipes. Try one with a friend or two on the next wintry afternoon.
A classic pairing
1 mug or hot-beverage glass
2 ozs. peppermint schnapps
1 C prepared hot chocolate
chocolate syrup or sprinkles to garnish
Pour the schnapps into the mug or glass. Fill with hot chocolate and stir well. Top with whipped cream and chocolate garnish.
TIP: For a stronger drink with more depth, add 1/2 ounce of coffee liqueur to the schnapps before stirring in the hot chocolate. This is sometimes called a Chocolate Kiss.
Perfect for a Valentine dinner
3 ozs. prepared hot chocolate, cooled
1 ozs. dark crème de cocoa liqueur
1 ozs. irish cream liqueur
3/4 ozs. vanilla vodka
3 to 4 miniature marshmallows
Garnish (optional) such as pitted cherries, citrus rind, chocolate sprinkles, etc.
Combine the chocolate, crème de cacao, irish cream liqueur, and vanilla vodka in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake moderately. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish as desired.
Just right for sipping before a fireplace
⅓ C unsweetened cocoa powder
½ C granulated sugar
a dash of salt
⅓ C boiling water
3½ C reduced fat milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbls half and half (optional)
8 Tbls cinnamon whiskey
1 C mini marshmallows
In a medium saucepan stir together the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Stir in the boiling water until the sugar dissolves and the cocoa is not lumpy. Reduce heat to medium.
Stir in the milk. Let the milk heat, stirring occasionally. Be careful it doesn’t scorch. You are warming the milk, not cooking it.
When the hot chocolate has reached your desired drinking temperature, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, half and half, and whiskey. Divide the hot chocolate between four mugs, top each with marshmallows. If desired, garnish with chocolate syrup, ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick, and serve immediately. Serves four.
NOTES: This recipe is delicious with bourbon whiskey, too.
If you leave out the whiskey this makes a gourmet, kid-friendly, homemade hot chocolate. The half & half makes it extra creamy.
By Jean Redstone