Wrapping your hands around a mug of creamy hot chocolate is the perfect conclusion to pretty much any winter activity. Whether you’re recovering from a day of making snow angels, falling on your butt on the skating rink one too many times, or wrapping gifts shaped like they were run over by Santa’s sleigh, a hot cup of cocoa takes all the pain away.

Everyone knows the basic recipe for this classic beverage, but if you really want to turbo charge your hot chocolate game, I’ve got a few delicious suggestions:

How to make a classic hot chocolate

The Classic: Hot Cocoa Recipe

  • 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups milk or half + half (or your favorite milk substitute)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Boozy Addition: Whipped cream vodka or Irish cream liqueur (such as Bailey’s)

Method

Whisk together the cocoa, sugar, salt, and about 2 tablespoons of milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until cocoa and sugar are dissolved. Turn up the heat to medium and whisk in the rest of the milk. Keep whisking occasionally until heated through. Stir in the vanilla and serve.

Recipe to make Mexican Hot Chocolate

The Fancy Pants: Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe

  • 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 small chunk of your favorite dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of chili powder
  • 3/4 cup of milk or half + half (or your favorite milk substitute)
  • Boozy Addition: Spiced rum or tequila (if you dare)

Method

Whisk together the cocoa, cinnamon, and chili powder. Add the dark chocolate and pour in the milk. Add the milk and stir until everything is melted together and heated through. Stir in the vanilla, add a touch of your favorite sweetener (optional) and serve.

Recipe to make Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

The Hack: Hazelnut Hot Chocolate Recipe

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of leftover chocolate hazelnut spread (in the bottom of the jar)
  • 1 cup of hot milk or half + half (or your favorite milk substitute)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Boozy Addition: Bourbon or Kahlua

Method

Grab the jar of almost-empty-scrape-the-bottom chocolate hazelnut spread (or your favorite nut butter), add the warm milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Shake well to combine.  Pour in a mug or (better yet) drink directly from the jar.

If you like your hot chocolate frothy, blend any of these recipes in a blender and garnish with cinnamon sticks or chocolate shavings if you’re feeling super fancy.

Enjoy!

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