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Hot Cocoa – From Scratch Recipe, Double Chocolate

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Nothing is better on a brisk, chilly day or after some fun in the snow than a warm cup of hot cocoa. Some of my fondest memories of the winter season were made sitting by a toasty fire with hot cocoa overflowing with marshmallows.

I'm sharing my family's favorite hot cocoa recipe, plus tips, add-ins and fun peppermint candy spoons.

homemade hot cocoa

Is there a difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa?

Hot chocolate is also known as a drinking chocolate. It's usually made with real melted chocolate. This is slowly incorporated into milk or cream over low heat, until well blended.

Hot cocoa comes from a sweetened powdered mix. 

If you're buying ‘hot chocolate' from a grocery store or a restaurant, chances are you are actually buying hot cocoa.

In this recipe, we're going to combine the best of both worlds. We're using a power mix AND real chocolate for a taste so delicious that you'll want to make it again and again. 

What is in hot cocoa?

Hot cocoa starts with:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Dairy 
  • Thickener (cream or powdered creamer)
  • Water
  • Sweetener

Then you can drink it as is, or you can continue to bring it to the next level with add-ins or toppings.

homemade hot cocoa with whipped cream

How to Make Hot Cocoa from Scratch

Our homemade hot chocolate/hot cocoa combination makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of milk, heavy cream, half and half or milk substitute i.e. almond milk. (If using milk substitute, I like to add 1/4 cup of non-dairy powdered creamer as well)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sweetener. I use organic cane sugar but you can use maple sugar, sucanat, stevia, etc. See our sugar conversion chart here. 
  • 3-4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (try our easy homemade vanilla extract recipe)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips or shaved chocolate (your preference of chocolate: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, mint chocolate, etc.)
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add milk, water, sugar, cocoa, and salt. 
  2. Whisk continually over medium heat to combine the cocoa in the mix, be careful not to let the milk boil. 
  3. Once the mixture is hot, add your chocolate chips
  4. Reduce heat stirring continuously. 
  5. Once the chocolate is blended remove from heat, add vanilla, and stir.
  6. Pour into the cup and enjoy, or use some of our suggested add-ins. 

What to put in hot cocoa to make it better?

We've all had that store bought, watered down hot cocoa imposter that barely tastes like chocolate water.

NASTY.

Whether you're trying to upgrade the store mix or make your homemade recipe even better, try these tips and add-ins.

Tips

  • Add heavy cream or half and half for a creamier, richer taste. 
  • Add additional real chocolate chips for a more chocolaty experience. 
  • Use bittersweet chocolate in place of regular chocolate for a drink that's less-sweet. 
  • Reduce the milk and use more hot water to really bring out the chocolate flavor.

Add-ins and Toppings

You can add these to our hot cocoa, sprinkle them on top, or use them as fillings for hot chocolate bombs. Get hot chocolate bomb molds here.

  • Cinnamon
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Mini marshmallows or marshmallows
  • Marshmallow cream (fluff)
  • Whipped cream
  • Cinnamon and Sugar
  • Crushed Candy Cane
  • Cookie Crumbles (ginger snaps)
  • Caramel 
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom 
  • Coffee
  • Ginger*
    *See Our Spiced Hot Cocoa Mix Recipe
hot cocoa with toasted marshmallows

Best Alcohol to Add to Hot Cocoa

Cuddling up by the fire with a fuzzy blanket and a hot toddy is my kind of relaxation.

Maybe you're hosting a holiday part with friends and would like to offer the adults a unique drink?

These are our top alcohol suggestions to add to your homemade hot cocoa. 

  • Kahlua
  • Brandy
  • Peppermint Schnapps
  • Cinnamon Liquor 
  • Vanilla Vodka
  • Red wine
  • Spiced Rum
  • Tequila Rose
  • Cherry Cordial

Add approximately 1.5 ounces per drink.

Candy Cane Spoons

Taking your cup of cocoa to the next level by adding a homemade candy cane spoon to it!

I used traditional peppermint candy canes. However, you can use any hard candy you like – cherry, mint, cinnamon – choose your favorite.

I've found that no one in my house finishes a whole candy cane. They usually take a couple of licks, then leave the rest laying around until I walk by and throw it away. 

Now that we make these cute candy spoons, I break off the half-eaten part and save the rest in a zip lock for this recipe. 

making candy cane spoons

Candy Cane Spoon Ingredients

  • Candy canes or hard candy pieces
  • Silicone spoon mold (Get one here)
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

  • Unwrap candy 
  • Lay out parchment paper on the counter.
  • Crush with a rolling pin until the candy is finely chopped almost to a powder.
  • Spoon the chopped candy into the cavities of your mold, going above the fill line.
  • Place mold on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Check on spoons, they do shrink considerably. 
  • Remove from the oven and add more candy to fill holes or shrinkage. 
  • Return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
  • Cool completely and gently remove spoons from molds. 
  • Spoons will last several months if stored in a dry area. 
hot cocoa with whipped cream and peppermint spoon

Just for Fun – Edible Shot Glasses

For the kids or grown ups who are kids at heart, we also have instructions for making edible shot glasses with hard candy, cookie dough, or chocolate.

Pair your hot cocoa with a candy cane cup or chocolate chip cookie dough cup for a fun sipping experience. See the “Edible Shot Glasses” article for full instructions.

make your own edible shot glasses

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Hot Cocoa – From Scratch Recipe, Double Chocolate

homemade hot cocoa with whipped cream

You'll love my family's favorite made from scratch, double chocolate hot cocoa recipe, plus tips and add-ins.

  • Author: Laurie Neverman
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: beverage

Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 cups of milk, heavy cream, half and half or milk substitute i.e. almond milk.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sweetener. I use organic cane sugar but you can use maple sugar, sucanat, stevia, etc.
  • 34 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips or shaved chocolate (your preference of chocolate: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, mint chocolate, etc.)
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add milk, water, sugar, cocoa, and salt. 
  2. Whisk continually over medium heat to combine the cocoa in the mix, be careful not to let the milk boil. 
  3. Once the mixture is hot, add your chocolate chips
  4. Reduce heat stirring continuously. 
  5. Once the chocolate is blended remove from heat, add vanilla, and stir.
  6. Pour into the cup and enjoy, or use some of our suggested add-ins.

Notes

If using milk substitute, I like to add 1/4 cup of non-dairy powdered creamer as well.

Tips

  • Add heavy cream or half and half for a creamier, richer taste. 
  • Add additional real chocolate chips for a more chocolaty experience. 
  • Use bittersweet chocolate in place of regular chocolate for a drink that's less-sweet. 
  • Reduce the milk and use more hot water to really bring out the chocolate flavor.

Add-ins

  • Cinnamon
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Mini marshmallows or marshmallows
  • Marshmallow cream (fluff)
  • Whipped cream
  • Cinnamon and Sugar
  • Crushed Candy Cane
  • Cookie Crumbles (ginger snaps)
  • Caramel 
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom 
  • Coffee
  • Ginger

Did you make this recipe?

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Amber Bradshaw

This post is by Amber Bradshaw of My Homestead Life.

Amber and her family live off grid on forty-six acres in the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee.

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