Winter has officially arrived! In the cold climates of the culturally idyllic winter, snow cakes the trees and streets, ski resorts are open in full swing, and the ponds have frozen over just in time for ice skating. But of course, here in the Bay Area, the coming of winter means something markedly different; wispy winds and rainy rivers in the streets accompanied by a dense and omnipresent layer of fog define our “winter wonderland.” But wherever you’re enjoying winter this year, one thing is certain: there’s nothing quite so comforting as cozying up to a warm and inviting cup of hot cocoa to hide away from the frigidity of the wintery weather outside.

Whether your chocolate-based beverage of choice is hot cocoa or hot chocolate has been a decided point of contention in recent years. The primary difference is that one is made by melting solidified chocolate (i.e. chocolate chips or bars) while the other is based strictly in powdered cocoa solids (i.e. cocoa powder). This recipe proposes something of a compromise between the two: by using not only cocoa powder but also cocoa butter—the fat component of the cocoa bean extracted during cocoa powder production. This method effectively produces de novo solidified chocolate in the process of heating the beverage, resulting in a uniquely rich and chocolatey winter drink that is, by technical definition, hot cocoa and hot chocolate simultaneously.

Hot Chocolate/Cocoa Using De Novo Cocoa-Genesis

  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:10 mins
  • Total Time:25 mins
  • Servings:2
  • Easy


  • 2 oz cocoa butter—this stuff can be a little tricky to find but try looking for it at health food stores. If you’re in Berkeley it’s usually available at Berkeley Bowl!
  • 2 oz cocoa powder
  • 2 cups whole milk—you can use other milks but the result will be discernibly less rich.
  • 2 tbsp sugar or more or less to taste—or substitute other sweeteners your choice.
  • 1 tsp salt—optional but helps in balancing the bitterness the chocolate.
Steven Huang
  • Step 1

    Heat cocoa butter in a small pot over medium heat, whisking constantly until melted.

    Steven Huang
  • Step 2

    Once the cocoa butter has completely liquified, add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. You may want to reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent scorching the chocolate as it forms.

    Steven Huang
  • Step 3

    Gradually whisk in milk, adding a little at a time and mixing until fully incorporated before adding more.

    Steven Huang
  • Step 4

    Season with sugar and salt to taste. I like to add 1 tbsp of sugar per serving, but I prefer my cocoa more bitter than most—plus, the salt will help balance out the bitterness of the cocoa.

    Steven Huang
  • Step 5

    Continue to cook on medium or medium-low until the desired temperature has been reached. Once satisfied, remove from heat and ladle into mugs, garnishing if desired with marshmallows, whipped cream, or a dusting of cocoa powder.

    Steven Huang

This innovative amalgamation of hot chocolate and hot cocoa is not only groundbreaking in the context of the decidedly-complicated cocoa-beverage-nomenclature discourse, but it's also a deliciously unique way to enjoy hot chocolate/cocoa. Flaunting the delicate raw-cocoa richness of traditional hot cocoa and the decadent velvety mouthfeel of traditional hot chocolate, this version promises the best of both worlds—the ultimate heated cocoa-based beverage.

Steven Huang