Hacking Hot Chocolate

Featured Geek Culture Hacking the Holidays
Image by Flickr User chatiryworld (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Image by Flickr User chatiryworld (CC BY-ND 2.0)

It’s winter! For most places in the United States, that means cold weather, rosy cheeks, and numb fingers. Hot drinks, such as tea, coffee, and hot chocolate, are consumed on a daily basis, at least in my house. Sometimes a good ol’ mug of Lipton will suffice, but sometimes we want more. We want dessert in a cup.

We can’t all afford to pay multiple dollars for a fancy hot chocolate at Starbucks or other elaborate drink establishment. But you needn’t spend much money or time to enjoy a rich, creamy, chocolatey treat. You can make a few minor changes to basic hot chocolate packets and end up with a high-calorie, high-enjoyment, sweet treat. And you don’t even need a milk frother. Here are some ideas for home or work. Just add boiling water.

Richer and Creamier

Add 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips and a splash of cream (or non-dairy creamer, if that’s all you have around). Let sit for a while, stirring occasionally.

Chocolate Salted Caramel

Add 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips, several (3-4) unwrapped caramels torn into pieces, and a dash of salt. Leave out the salt for a regular Chocolate Caramel flavor. Let sit for a while, stirring occasionally.

Mint Chocolate

Add 1-2 tablespoons of mint chocolate chips, or use regular chocolate chips and a couple drops of mint extract. Let sit for a while, stirring occasionally.

Fruity Flavors

If you have fruit extracts, such as orange or raspberry, they are also good complex additions as well. Add 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips, also, for richness. Let sit for a while, stirring occasionally.

Chocolate Coconut

Add 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips along with a healthy dose of coconut milk. Let sit for a while, stirring occasionally.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Add a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper, along with, perhaps, chocolate chips and cream. Let sit for a while, stirring occasionally.

Malted Milk Hot Chocolate

Stir in malted milk powder to taste.

Chai Hot Chocolate

Brew a mug of chai tea and add your hot chocolate packet. Stir well.

If you’re like me and you always have a Costco-sized bag of chocolate chips in the house, it only takes a few additional seconds to spruce up a quick mug of hot chocolate. Simply boil water, put in the packet, and add your extras. Using milk as a base instead of water will also make your drink much creamier, but heating milk is kind of a pain. This list is meant to provide fancy drink ideas without increasing the difficulty.

What are your favorite ingredients to add to hot chocolate or other hot drink? Let us know in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Hacking Hot Chocolate

  1. What crazy planet are you from? Nothing that comes out of a packet can rightfully be called hot chocolate! (Its just cocoa and sugar anyway)
    All hot chocolate needs to start with a 200g block of dark (US-ians read bitter) chocolate slowly melted with splashes of full cream milk until it reaches the consistency of a thick gravy. Then add a cup of milk and stir to dilute to drinkable levels.
    Sub out milk for cream to make this into a desert. (Its called ganache)

    Protip: Be sure that your chocolate is not compound chocolate and contains milk fats not vegetable fats. Most choc chips are compound chocolate

  2. Starbucks hot chocolate is no different from package hot chocolate. I will have to try Daniel’s approach above sounds quite tasty. Some of the adds above do sound tasty but this is my hot cocoa recipe it’s a variant on what used to be on the Hershey’s cocoa box for a single serving. Measurements are approximate as I often just grab a non measuring spoon.
    2 TBS cocoa
    3 TBS sugar
    small pinch of salt
    few drops of vanilla

    Combine cocoa sugar and salt in the bottom of a mug, stir to break up lumps in cocoa. Slowly add the milk to the mug while string, much like when adding a liquid to a flour butter mixture when cooking. There should be a thick paste that looks very much like melted chocolate on the bottom of the mug, be sure to get in to the edges so there is no trapped dry cocoa sugar mixture. Slowly fill the mug and add the vanilla (or above suggested spices or extracts, although dry spices might be better to add with the cocoa sugar and salt). Microwave 90 seconds.

    I got grief for years after exposing my young nephew to the above, while babysitting, from my sister, as he asked for hot cocoa and my sister had lots of packets but I wanted some too, and for a while every time he asked for it and she grabbed a packet he would say no like Uncle Michael makes.

  3. I’m with Michael on this one. No packets in my house. My favourite variation is to use only whipping (or heavy) cream instead of milk. This results in hot chocolate like you get in Paris.

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