Yes, winter is here. (Technically there are four seasons in each year, but who are we kidding? This is Canada.) While there are many options for making the colder months bearable, such as skiing and snowshoeing during a cottage getaway or buying tickets to The Nutcracker, one of the easiest ways to create happiness in minus temperatures is also the most delicious: hot chocolate. Try one of these inventive twists on hot chocolate and you’ll almost wish winter lasted longer (not really).

1. Aztec Hot Chocolate

The Aztecs and Mayans were the first to discover the energising nature of cacao and hot chocolate, though their xocolātl was unsweetened and often mixed with spices such as chili. Pay homage to those who brought chocolate into our lives by making a spiced Aztec Hot Chocolate. It will warm up more than you thought a drink ever could.

How do you make it?

In a small saucepan, combine 4 cups milk, 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon cayenne or ground chipotle chili pepper, ¼ teaspoon cardamom (optional), and a pinch salt. Whisk over medium-low heat until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is steaming hot, about 5 minutes. Serves 4-6.

2. Vegan Hot Chocolate with Coconut Milk

Can’t have dairy? No worries! Use coconut milk and vegan dark chocolate to create the rich and intense hot chocolate you thought you’d said goodbye to forever. Note: High-quality dark chocolate should be vegan, but make sure to check the ingredients list before purchasing. The brand Enjoy Life makes vegan chocolate, while Lindt 70% and 85% in your local supermarket or drugstore is also dairy-free.

How do you make it?

Place 3 ounces chopped vegan dark chocolate, 1 ½ cups coconut milk (full-fat from a can will make the richest hot chocolate) and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is warm. If you’re using a high percentage (70% or over) cacao chocolate, you may want to add a tablespoon or two of sugar, to taste. Serves 2.

3. Spiked Hot Chocolate

Spiked Hot Chocolate. Have more winter-appropriate words ever been spoken (to adults over the age of 19, that is)? Try adding a little rum, Kahlua, Baileys, or Frangelico to your hot chocolate… after the kids have gone to bed.

How do you make it?

Stir 2 cups milk, 3 ½ ounces chopped bittersweet or semisweet dark chocolate, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 teaspoons honey in a saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of rum, Irish whiskey, Baileys, or your favourite liqueur, to taste, just warming through. Serves 2.

4. White Hot Chocolate

White Hot Chocolate is perfect for sweet tooths and those who don’t want to drink caffeine late at night.

How do you make it?

Pour 3 cups milk and 1 cup cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until warmed through. Add 8 ounces of chopped good-quality white chocolate and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, stirring until melted and heated through. This is lovely served with peppermint sticks (candy canes) at Christmas time. Serves 4.

5. Malted Hot Cocoa

Made with cocoa instead of dark chocolate and a generous dose of malted milk powder to boot, this malted hot cocoa will remind you of childhood in the best possible way.

How do you make it?

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together ¼ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons water, and 3 tablespoons malted milk powder until smooth. Slowly add 2 cups milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Heat through and serve topped with marshmallows. Serves 2.

6. Nutella Hot Chocolate

Two ingredients are all you need to make yourself a rich, decadent mug of Nutella Hot Chocolate in minutes. Go on, try it.

How do you make it?

In a small saucepan on the stove or jug in the microwave, heat 1 cup milk with 2 tablespoons Nutella, stirring until melted and warmed through. That’s it. And it’s delicious. Serves 1. (Want to make your drink even more intense? Serve topped with whipped cream.)


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