Hot chocolate

Thanks to the weekend snowstorm, I now feel like I can legitimately enjoy a piping cup of hot cocoa while snuggled up in my warmest sweaters and socks while watching one of my favorite TV shows. For the past few weeks I’ve longed to snuggle up with a toasty drink, but with temperatures in the 50s it’s been difficult to get into the wintery snuggle mood. Finally the snow and cold temps arrive!

Over the weekend I had the chance to enjoy a delicious cup of snickerdoodle-flavored hot chocolate from a beloved coffee chain. While I sipped, picking out the delicious flavors of my favorite cookie, I thought about how easy it would be to recreate this cup of cocoa. So here are a few of my favorite ideas for everything from fun flavor combos to add-ins to shortcuts on traditional favorites. For more, visit our Drink Up board on Pinterest.

Fun flavors

Sure, we all love a great cup of pure hot chocolate, but it sure is fun to add in fun flavors to add a little extra “shot” of spice or sweetness. Mexican hot chocolate, for example is great for those who enjoy an extra bit of heat with the chocolate. Amaretto and mint, too, are popular flavors that combines beautifully with a rich, dark cocoa, but what about flavors like coconut, turmeric or gingerbread? (Note: I didn’t mention pumpkin spice.)

Still craving that Snickerdoodle hot chocolate, I found this great knock-off recipe. In a saucepan combine 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil, pressing out lumps. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add in 1 cup mil, 1-2 tablespoons white chocolate syrup (like Torani-brand) and 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon dolce syrup. Pour into glasses and top with whipped cream.

Cocoa add-ins

When thinking of add-ins for a cup of cocoa, we all think of mini marshmallows or a dollop of whipped cream, but there are many, many more options for enhancing the look, feel and flavor of your drink. If you’re a Nutella fan, add in a spoon of Nutella and top with whipped cream and chopped hazel nuts. Create a s’mores cocoa by topping with toasted marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs and chocolate syrup.

For the Oreo lovers in your house, try this recipe. Warm 2 cups of milk in a saucepan. Don’t boil. Add 1/2 cup hot chocolate powder. Going up 4-5 Oreo cookies and add to the warm milk. Serve with whipped cream and crushed Oreos on top. You can also use candy cane hot chocolate powered for a nice mint cookies and cream flavor.

Shortcut options

Did you know that many of those powerful kitchen blenders can actually whip up batches of hot, steamy cocoa in just three minutes? Utah’s own Blendtec, for example, offers up some great recipes for delicious hot cocoa made in blender. With the “soups” setting on the blender, you can put cold ingredients into the blender, hit that soups cycle and in just a few minutes have perfectly heated cocoa.

Here’s a recipe I recently tried out from Blendtec. In fact it was a huge hit with celebrities at a recent Sundance Film Festival event.

Fill a blender jar with 4 cups of almond milk or milk of your choice, add in 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Blend on the “soups” cycle and serve immediately. If you want a richer flavor, add more chocolate chips.

— Jennifer Durrant

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