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10 Twists on Hot Chocolate That Will Blow Your Mind

author image Yasmin Fahr
Yasmin Fahr is a food writer with a strong love for avocados, feta and tomatoes. After a Master’s in Food Studies at New York University, she began a career in food writing at Food & Wine magazine and then as a founding cook editor at The Daily Meal. Her writing has appeared in Yahoo! Travel, LA Times, Serious Eats, TasteBook and Whole Foods Market publications.

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10 Twists on Hot Chocolate That Will Blow Your Mind
Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM

Cozying up with a warm cup of hot chocolate is a favorite childhood pastime, but who says kids should have all the fun? We're talking about hot chocolate made the adult way. Feel like adding a little booze? Brilliant idea. Want to make it spicy? Do it. Tackling the holidays by going Paleo? We’ve got you covered. Here we compile our favorite hot chocolate twists along with a basic go-to recipe so you can enjoy the holidays right. And part of the fun of hot chocolate is how you serve it. Whether it’s in a fancy mug or your favorite beat-up coffee cup, play around with toasted marshmallows or peppermint or cinnamon stir sticks. Get creative with toppings like shaved coconut.

1. The Best Ever Homemade Hot Chocolate
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1 The Best Ever Homemade Hot Chocolate

This basic recipe is a riff on how the French make their hot chocolate: We use chocolate bars, but skip the more traditional egg yolk to cut down on calories and fat. Stirring chocolate bars directly into hot milk is an easy way to make a rich, creamy beverage in no time without the need to pull out that double boiler. For a more concentrated flavor, add a little bit of unsweetened cocoa powder. While we tried to keep things on the lighter side as much as possible, if you want a more rounded mouthfeel, use a mixture of cream and whole milk as your base. For the big finish, top the hot chocolate with large marshmallows that you can (safely) toast over a gas burner or under the broiler for less than a minute.

Related: Simple Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe

2. No-Sugar Low-Fat Hot Chocolate
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2 No-Sugar Low-Fat Hot Chocolate

For those looking to cut down on sugar and calories, the best-ever homemade recipe can be adjusted for simple swaps, such as stevia-sweetened chocolate bars or unsweetened dark chocolate to which stevia is added. You could even use your favorite chocolate protein powder if it’s low in calories. Sub in nonfat milk or an unsweetened milk alternative like almond or soy, and instead of marshmallows or whipped cream, try topping it with shaved, unsweetened coconut flakes.

Related: No Sugar Low-Fat Hot Chocolate Recipe

3. Cinnamon Sticks Hot Cocoa
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3 Cinnamon Sticks Hot Cocoa

For a more complex chocolate flavor, Fabienne Soulies of Los Angeles bakery Pitchoun uses a mix of dark and milk chocolate with cocoa powder that she stirs directly into the warming milk. Spiced with ground cinnamon and garnished with a cinnamon stick, this cup of chocolatey deliciousness is perfect for the holidays. Soulies notes that added sugar isn’t necessary because it’s already built into the milk chocolate bar. But if you like yours on the sweeter side, feel free to add sugar to the mixture.

Related: Hot Chocolate With Cinnamon Sticks Recipe

4. Adults-Only Hot Chocolate
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4 Adults-Only Hot Chocolate

One of the perks of being an adult? It’s socially acceptable to add booze to your hot chocolate. Add Bailey’s for an extra-creamy, wintery boost of flavor, or dabble in more sophisticated spirits like amaretto, an almond-flavored liqueur, or a hazelnut liqueur like Frangelico. Make your basic hot chocolate based on our recipe, and then add in three-quarters of a cup of the booze of your choice.

Related: Hot Chocolate With Bailey's Recipe

5. South-of-the-Border Hot Cocoa
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5 South-of-the-Border Hot Cocoa

Heat-heads who love the combination of chocolate and cayenne will enjoy this spiced hot chocolate. Keep in mind that the cayenne is on the lower side of spicy, so definitely increase the amount if you’re looking for more of a kick. Garnish with a cut chili pepper and cinnamon stick.

Related: Spicy Hot Chocolate Recipe

6. Paleo Coconut Hot Chocolate
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6 Paleo Coconut Hot Chocolate

Specific nutritional needs can lead to skipping out on some of your favorite foods and beverages. Luckily for us, coconut milk adds a nutty creaminess to hot chocolate and, with the use of dark chocolate, is also Paleo-friendly. As added sugar is removed from the recipe and the dark chocolate can make it quite bitter, this is the perfect time to experiment with additions like vanilla extract or cinnamon for a flavor boost. You’ll notice that the amount of dark chocolate is considerably less than in the basic recipe. This is to account for the bitterness of the chocolate as well as the creaminess of the coconut milk.

Related: Paleo Coconut Hot Chocolate Recipe

7. “Let It Go” Frozen Hot Chocolate
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7 “Let It Go” Frozen Hot Chocolate

Lucky enough to live in a warm-weather climate? Don’t miss out on the chocolaty fun with this delicious frozen hot chocolate recipe that works as easily for a snack as it does for dessert. Serve it in a decorative glass, topped with whipped cream and a chocolate or peppermint stick for extra fun. This would also be a great opportunity to slip in some booze -- because we're adults. And we can.

Related: Frozen Hot Chocolate Recipe

8. Peppermint Patty Hot Cocoa
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8 Peppermint Patty Hot Cocoa

Tingly with a refreshing mint flavor, this is the perfect way to use up leftover candy canes from your Christmas tree or the ones you were gifted in that odd holiday bag. Line them in a towel and use the back of a pot to crush them before stirring them into the hot liquid. Add whipped cream and chopped-up peppermint chocolate or chocolate shavings for garnish.

Related: Peppermint Hot Chocolate Recipe

9. Nutty for Nutella Hot Chocolate
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9 Nutty for Nutella Hot Chocolate

Love Nutella? We do, too. Using this delectable spread skips the need to use salt, sugar or added chocolate because all the flavor is built into the spread. Top this hazelnut-flavored hot cocoa with whipped cream and a drizzle of Nutella or caramel.

Related: Nutella Hot Chocolate Recipe

10. Vegan, Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chip Cookie Hot Chocolate
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10 Vegan, Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chip Cookie Hot Chocolate

California-based Bakeology ( makes a decadent vegan, gluten-free hot chocolate that has all of the flavor and none of the stuff you can’t have. If you’re not based in Cali, you can order the cookies online (they ship nationwide). Or, if you’re not gluten-free, use your favorite chocolate chip cookies. Note that if you are using a different cookie, you might need to adjust the amount of sugar and chocolate in the recipe.

Related: Vegan, Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chip Cookie Hot Chocolate Recipe

What Do YOU Drink?

What Do YOU Drink?

Do you love hot chocolate? What's your favorite iteration on hot chocolate? Which of these recipes would you try? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Related: 9 Chocolate Desserts That Are Actually Good for You

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