Call me a heretic, but plain old hot chocolate can get, well…boring. Sure, it may be a childhood favorite, reminiscent of snow days and holidays (and every other cold day in between here in Chicago), but as we’ve gotten older and more mature, so have our tastebuds. We don’t eat the same foods we did when we were six, just as we’ve grown to accept that we’re not all going to be astronauts after college. (Ha!)
So isn’t it time to upgrade this chocolatey, wintry drink to reflect this change? Here are 6 ways to spice up your hot chocolate, experiment with novel flavors and finally have the courage to put those mini marshmallows away.
1. Coffee and Pretzel
Though the bold flavors of coffee and chocolate have been recognized as a magical combo in the hot beverage world, this duo can be enhanced to provide an even more magical spectrum of flavors. Topped with the sweetness of whipped cream and the saltiness of crushed pretzels, this hot chocolate reaches new levels. The addition of coffee also lends a kick of caffeine, a perk most college kids need.
2. Peppermint Tea and Candy Cane
The fresh mint gives a doubly cool contrast to the warmth of hot chocolate. Swapping mini marshmallows for crushed candy cane provides a starker color and texture to this typically silky beverage. Want to make it extra party friendly? Use peppermint schnapps in lieu of a tea bag.
3. Vanilla, Cayenne and Cinnamon
Inspired by Mexican hot chocolate, this combination includes spices that pair surprisingly well with the rich, dark flavor of hot chocolate. The kick from cayenne pepper (or any hot spice like chili or chipotle powder) complements the earthy taste of cinnamon. The more subdued flavor of vanilla extract helps bring the flavors together, achieving a sweet and spicy treat. Chocolate chips optional.
4. Raspberry and White Chocolate
Raspberry and white chocolate merge to make an even sweeter (pun intended) drink. While both pair well with milk chocolate individually (think raspberry chocolate cake or white chocolate mocha), tangy raspberry and creamy white chocolate blend together just as well. With the addition of rich cocoa, a wonderful trio is formed. If switching up the chocolate base is too much for you, opt for marshmallow fluff instead of white chocolate.
5. Amaretto and Caramel
With an almond-like flavor, the amaretto gives this hot chocolate a nutty edge. The alcoholic amaretto can also soothe both your body and mind when you’ve had a bad, freezing day. With a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings, the finished product resembles something along the lines of a drinkable candy bar. Not much is better than that. (Try this one out with our DIY Salted Caramel Mocha recipe.)
6. Ginger and Cardamom
Perhaps an unconventional partner for chocolate, crushed ginger has a flavorful, sharp taste that shouldn’t be limited to Asian dishes and ginger ale. Mixed with the similarly not-so-traditional flavor of cardamom, a strong and aromatic spice often used in ethnic cooking, these key ingredients trade sweetness for a deep, slightly bitter (in a good way) feel that is suitable for more mature palates. Blend well for a balanced, silky texture.