This hot chocolate from scratch is rich, creamy and very, very chocolatey. It is easily made with ingredients from any well stocked baker’s pantry. The sauce pan that I made the hot chocolate in was provided to me by OXO as part of their Blogger Outreach #OXOCookware campaign. Affiliate links were used in this post to link to items I am discussing.
I know, I promised you John’s birthday’s dessert. And it is coming–soon! But I wanted to get this hot chocolate post out before the cold goes away–because surely it must go away? And I know everyone is busy pinning spring-y things, and I try to be a good blogger about anticipating what people want that way, but the fact is, as long as there is snow on the ground, it is hot chocolate weather around here. Heck from what I hear, it is hot chocolate weather in Texas right now, so maybe this post is a little bit timely!
I have made hot chocolate from scratch for quite a while now. Confession: I hate the pre-made hot cocoa. It is way too sweet for me and not nearly chocolate enough. I spent my entire childhood thinking I hated hot chocolate. I discovered the entire concept of making it with real chocolate one year when my parents purchased some of the hot chocolate that Williams Sonoma releases every year during the holidays–and fell in love (I would link to it for you but they do not sell it now). Over time however, I have grown less reliant on the idea of a hot chocolate mix (of any kind) and more comfortable just whipping up a batch of it.
I always have dark (and milk and white!) chocolate in my pantry (worst case scenario I could even use chocolate chips–but I much prefer the idea of choosing a favorite chocolate). I also always have cocoa powder–in fact I always have at least 2 kinds, natural and Dutched, and usually even more selection than that. Don’t worry, you don’t need all that, just your favorite bar of dark chocolate (for hot chocolate mine is Scharffen Berger, 70% Bittersweet Chocolate) and your favorite unsweetened cocoa (for peppermint hot chocolate my favorite is Valrhona Cocoa Powder and for most boozy hot chocolate I prefer Scharffen Berger Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder). I always make my hot chocolate even more bitter than I might like it–because then I can add sweetener in the form of booze or in the form of a peppermint cane syrup (my brand of choice is Monin Peppermint Syrup), and even more important, because then when making it for guests, everyone can sweeten it to their own taste. My husband finds the hot chocolate that I drink to be way too bitter, whereas my sister I suspect finds it too sweet. Alex likes it strong and bitter–the kid even eats unsweetened chocolate! and Sammy prefers it sweeter. You can always add sweetener, but it is hard to make it less sweet, so always aim for a strong, bitter hot chocolate and let people sweeten it to taste.
So what inspired this post now, since I have been making it this way for a while? This is going to sound crazy–but bear with me–OXO released their new line of cookware and offered me a pan to try. Now I have a lot of nice pans–really nice pans. I registered very wisely for my wedding, and many of my pans are lifetime material. But let’s face it, you are often young when you get married, and sometimes do not think of everything. Well I can tell you there is one thing that torments me every winter, several times a week sometimes if we are really loving the hot chocolate–and any time I make a sauce besides. The lack of a lip (what OXO calls “rolled edges designed for drip free pouring”) on my very fancy stainless steel 2 and 4 quart sauce pans. I cannot tell you how much hot chocolate I have sacrificed to sliding down the outer side of the pan, as well as Thai Garlic Sweet Hot Dipping Sauce, which I make in bulk every so often, and any other thinner sauce that you might want to pour out of a pan. Call me crazy for being excited, but the day I got my new #OXOCookware OXO Good Grips Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Pro 3.5QT Covered Saucepan (and was so impressed the delivery came despite the snow day weather!), I told my kids that as soon as they came inside from playing in the snow, we were making hot chocolate!
As you can see, not a drop was wasted. That pink circle shows exactly where I poured the hot chocolate out into the mugs:
Maybe it makes me a cooking nerd, but this made my day. I hate wasting what I have spent time–even if just a bit of time–cooking!
You might be wondering how the pan measured up otherwise? Well, this is going to further the cooking nerd impression, but out of curiosity I weighed the pan. It actually weighed slightly more than my very expensive, really nice 4 quart stainless steel sauce pan. So it definitely passed that test! I hate lightweight pans–stuff on the bottom burns so easily! Also similar to that pan, the handles stay cool, the pan has an aluminum core between 2 layers of stainless steel, and is dishwasher safe. The glass lid is oven safe to 430 F and the pan is induction safe (something I have no experience with!). So it passed all relevant tests in this kitchen!
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) milk, I prefer at least 2% so it does not curdle; you can always add a splash of cream or half-and-half to lower fat milk
- 3 oz finely chopped dark chocolate, I recommend at least 60% cacao
- 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
- up to 2 oz sweet liquor of choice or add sweetener to taste (I like half Bailey's and half Kahlua)
Place the milk over medium heat in a sauce pan (preferably one with a rolled lip for easy pouring).
Add the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. Whisk briskly while the chocolate melts. When steam rises off of the hot chocolate, add your liquor of choice, or add sweetener by the teaspoon. Keep whisking--do not let any milk skin form, and you want to really emulsify the liquor into the milk if adding liquor.
When there are no visible lumps of chocolate or cocoa, it is as sweet as you like, and steam is rising off of the top when you stop whisking, pour the hot chocolate into a mug.
Top with marshmallows or whipped cream and serve immediately.