Is there anything better than curling up with a big cup of hot chocolate when it's cold outside?? I think not! This homemade hot chocolate uses heavy cream, a whole dark chocolate bar, and a cinnamon stick for the richest, creamiest, most delicious hot chocolate you've ever had!
There are a ton of different ways to make hot chocolate, so I wanted to explain why these specific ingredients yield the most rich, creamy hot chocolate!
Whole Milk & Heavy Cream
I like to use a combination of milk and heavy cream to achieve the perfect thickness! If you have half & half on hand, that works great too!
You can use just whole milk if you prefer, but I do not recommend using skim milk as it will make the hot chocolate more watery.
You want to heat the milk to about 180 degrees (do NOT boil it!), so a instant thermometer is super helpful! If you don't have one, just look for small bubbles to start forming along the sides.
Dark Chocolate Baking Bar
I always use either semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate baking bars when making hot chocolate!
There are several reasons to use a chocolate baking bar in this hot chocolate! Chocolate baking bars are designed to melt smoothly! Chocolate bars that are meant for eating and chocolate chips contain added emulsifiers that cause them to not melt as smoothly.
Similarly cocoa powder often doesn't dissolve fully and leaves clumps in your hot chocolate. It also doesn't contain the cocoa butter that a chocolate bar does, which is what helps make the hot chocolate super rich and creamy.
Some of my favorite baking chocolate bars are:
- Guittard - This is my number one choice! It's super high quality, affordable, and pretty easy to find. You can usually get it at Whole Foods or Target.
- Vahlrona - This is the chocolate that a lot of pastry chefs swear by! It's usually hard to find in stores, but comes in a ton of different forms.
- Callebaut - This is amazing chocolate that comes in block form, but is usually much harder to find but Whole Foods usually has it as do specialty stores.
- Scharffen Berger - I've never actually tried this brand but I've heard a lot of great things about it.
- Ghirardelli - The most affordable and widely available baking bars that are still high quality! I always have either their semi-sweet or bittersweet baking bars on hand even though it's not my number one choice.
I like to use a whole cinnamon stick to infuse the milk with flavor! Ground cinnamon will work in a pinch, but it doesn't fully dissolve and can leave clumps in your hot chocolate. So for texture and flavor, cinnamon sticks are the way to go!
Other flavor variations
- Add a dash of ground cayenne pepper to the milk for a slightly spicy Mexican hot chocolate.
- Instead of vanilla extract and cinnamon, swap in some peppermint extract for minty hot chocolate.
- You can use milk chocolate or white chocolate if you prefer, but you may want to cut back on the added sugar since those types of chocolate are sweeter.
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Cinnamon Hot Chocolate
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 ounces dark chocolate baking bar, roughly chopped
- Combine the milk, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and place on the stovetop over medium heat.
- When the milk reaches scalding point (180 degrees F), remove from the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. Add in the chopped chocolate and vanilla and whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Top with homemade whipped cream or marshmallows and enjoy!!
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