7 ways to upgrade your traditional hot chocolate this winter

hot-chocolate-red-mug-snowman-marshmallows Photo by Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock

There’s no question — true hot chocolate connoisseurs will agree that any recipe needs to start with real chocolate or, barring that, cocoa powder. Then again, if you’re into the powdered stuff, we’re not going to judge.

Regardless of how you prefer your hot chocolate, there’s plenty of ways to take it up a notch. Here are seven hot chocolate hacks to carry you through the rest of winter.

Spike it

Adding booze to hot chocolate might seem like beginner-level stuff. But instead of immediately reaching for the Bailey’s or crème de menthe, get a bit creative. You can add almost any liquor to hot chocolate. Why not try tequila or even a dry red wine? Unsurprisingly, the latter pairs particularly well with chocolate.

Infuse it

There are endless spices that taste great in hot chocolate, including cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and even red pepper. Heck, you even cheat by just adding a bit of concentrated chai mix to your mug.

But when it comes to flavour infusions, don’t limit yourself to spices. Try brewing your chocolate with a banana peel to infuse a fruity flavour, or add in orange rind for a citrus zest. Bonus tip: If you have a large batch to brew and want to infuse the flavours for a while, you can use your slow cooker.

Add a spread

Think sweet, not savoury. For example, try stirring one teaspoon of creamy peanut butter in for a hot peanut butter chocolate cup. Nutella enthusiasts will be happy to hear that this trick works with the hazelnut spread, too.

Stir it up with a flavoured stir stick

Got leftover candy canes from the holiday season? Use one as a stir stick in your hot chocolate to give it a minty flavour.

Top with homemade marshmallows

You can keep your cocoa classic by just adding marshmallows. Best of all, the homemade variety are surprisingly easy to make and free of preservatives. All you need is gelatin, corn syrup and sugar to make your own.

Gimme s’more

When you’ve got hot chocolate on hand, s’mores don’t have to be restricted to summertime bonfires. Simple rim your mug in graham cracker crumbs, then pop the entire thing — hot chocolate, marshmallows and all — in the broiler with the door open. Be sure to keep a close eye on it, though; much like over a campfire, the marshmallows will brown fast.

Three words: hot chocolate floats

Why would you make something so sweet even sweeter? Because you can! No recipe necessary here. All you need is hot chocolate and a scoop of your favourite ice cream.

Hot chocolate not your thing? Try these 10 hot drinks that aren’t hot chocolate.

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