Too Good to Be True?
Can it be? Can drinking hot chocolate really be healthy? Is there a hot chocolate that will improve your health and digestion?
The answer is actually YES. There are some forms of hot chocolate that can be beneficial to your health. Now, we want to preface this by saying most instant mixes and most of the hot chocolates you will buy in the stores are not healthy. They contain way too many sugars, artificial flavors, and other chemicals that are not good for your health.
What we're going to do here is show you how to make a real hot chocolate drink that will benefit your health and taste better than anything you get out of the store.
Hot Chocolate Benefits
Unlike many of the other foods and drinks on this website, hot chocolate does not have as many health benefits as they do, but it does have some.
It was mainly the cacao in the hot chocolate that gives it the healthy benefits. There is a difference between cacao and cocoa. Theobroma cacao is the species of tree from which the cacao bean is taken. The dried and fermented cacao bean is then processed to produce cacao powder or cocoa powder. The difference is the amount of processing, heat levels used, and cost.
Cacao has the highest antioxidant value of any other food. Cocoa powder is ranks not far behind. Because cacao powder is high cost and not available in many areas, we are going to limit our discussion to cocoa powder and its health benefits. Both can be used the same, and you can increase the health benefits by using cacao powder.
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Protein, calcium, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, sulfur, flavonoids, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids make up nearly some of the 400 different nutrients and antioxidants that are found within the cocoa powder.
There are many studies linking eating dark chocolate and using cocoa powder to lowering LDL cholesterol, reducing cancer risk, helping people to lose weight, and improving your digestion.
Phenethylamine, or PEA, is a natural pain-relieving neurotransmitter that stimulates the secretion of endorphins to help us stay alert and focused. It has also been shown in some studies to help reduce depression and anxiety.
One of the downsides of cocoa powder is that it does expire. It is rich in healthy fats and nutrients, which makes it a perfect breeding ground for undesirable bacteria. Yes, cocoa powder does expire and any hot chocolate made with this cocoa powder will expire.
And it's not just the cocoa powder within the hot chocolate that can be a benefit. Many people use the original recipe for hot chocolate that includes chilies. We have a great recipe below that are believed to be similar to some of the original Aztec and Incan recipes that used cacao beans. Many of the hot chilies that are used with hot chocolate contain significant amounts of capsaicin, which is a known anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. It is also very good for relieving pain and stimulating your digestive system.
Hot Chocolate Nutrition
One of the big problems with most hot chocolates is that it has a lot of calories – mostly because many people add a lot of sugar! The amount of sugar in hot chocolates vary depending on the recipe, so you will be able to find some low-calorie hot chocolates in our recipes below. This is perfect for diabetics. In place of all that unnecessary sugar, we add other nutritious components that let you enjoy without the negative side effects.
There are approximately 12 milligrams of caffeine in one tablespoon of cocoa powder. In many of our recipes below, you will be using 2 to 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder in a cup of hot chocolate. Therefore, the amount of caffeine in your cup maybe 24 to 36 milligrams. For those of you who are worried about caffeine, you don't need to worry much. This is actually less caffeine than what is found in a cup of green tea and less than a quarter of what is found in a full cup of black coffee.
When looking at the other nutritious details of hot chocolate, you're not going to find anything consistent. That's because so many of the recipes vary in very unique ways. There are some recipes will use yogurt and that increases the protein level. Some will use rice milk or almond milk and that will increase some of the calcium. Adding fruit will increase the antioxidant components.
Some recipes below will use alcohol, but that really decreases the health benefits.
So, rather than using a hot chocolate to supplement nutrition, we highly recommend that you use hot chocolate as a treat that has some small health benefits. And frankly, we think it tastes so good that you really shouldn't worry about it at all!
Homemade Hot Chocolate
The best type of hot chocolate is a healthy homemade hot chocolate. Whether you are preparing each cup fresh or you create a healthy hot chocolate mix to store in your cabinet, we have a recipe below that will help. These aren’t runny, watery blends. They are rich, creamy and flavorful treats that satisfy without overwhelming you with sugar or chemicals.
Before you go ahead and jump right into your DIY hot chocolate, you want to choose some quality ingredients. We also have links at the end of the article for our performed sources.
First and foremost, you want to get the best cocoa powder for your hot chocolate. This can vary in different areas depending on your access to different suppliers and supply chains. We recommend using cocoa powders that come from fair trade companies and organic sources.
There is a big problem in the tropical areas of clearing natural rainforest for cacao plantations. These areas are then heavily sprayed for pests that like to feed on the cacao beans. It creates a highly destructive pattern that damaging to the environment and wildlife.
In some areas, slave labor is used to harvest the cocoa beans. In others, the workforce is exploited. Using organic and fair trade standards you help ensure that the environment is protected and the workers are treated fairly.
Hot Chocolate Party
If you're having a get-together, using hot choc easiest ways to get everybody together and cozy. A popular trend is having a hot chocolate bar or buffet. People are able to try out various recipes and see which hot chocolate recipe they enjoy the most. Plus, it’s easy to create and simple to maintain for the host.
You can set up your own party in a very short time. Some of the recipes below are very easy to make in quantity and pour into small cups. Many of them can be warmed in buffet serving trays. For a crowd of people, you can serve hot chocolate via a chocolate fountain.
These types of parties are very popular in the winter when people want warm drinks and good company. We recommend adding hot chocolate to your next party and see your guests delight.
Hot Chocolate Do's & Don’ts
In many of the recipes below, we don't specify exact brands or types of chocolate to use. But there are some things that you should do and some things that you shouldn't. Chocolate can be picky and people prefer good chocolate to cheap chocolate.
You also should avoid using baking chocolates to make your hot chocolate. Baking chocolate tends to have a more bitter taste and can produce a bitter and flat hot chocolate. They may melt poorly and create lumpy hot chocolate.
We don't recommend making your hot chocolate in a microwave. Some cocoa powder can have an adverse reaction in a microwave, such as melting or becoming bitter. We also don't recommend heating the milk in the microwave as it can become overheated and splatter when you mix in the ingredients. We have been burned trying to take shortcuts.
There are some fancy gadgets out there for making hot chocolate, but these expensive hot chocolate makers don't make a good cup of hot chocolate. For example, the Keurig coffee maker * can also make hot chocolate. Most people agree it makes a good cup of coffee, but a watery and weak hot chocolate.
Hot Chocolate Recipes & Ideas
We have a number of recipes here on how to make homemade hot chocolate. Many of these recipes make the hot chocolate with cocoa powder while others make it with real chocolate.
Once you try a few of these recipes, leave us a comment below on the best way to make hot chocolate for you. It will help other people to try out various recipes and see what they like best. If you find a variation on a recipe works better, let us know and we’ll give you credit right in the article!
Basic & Simple Hot Chocolate Recipe
This recipe produces homemade hot chocolate for one person. This is true hot chocolate made from scratch. This is also one of the easiest recipes we have on the page. Many of our other recipes involve other ingredients, herbs and spices, and even fruit.
Simple Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe
Sometimes you just want to grab a packet of hot chocolate and stir it up. It's easy to make a hot chocolate mix at home and you can give this homemade hot chocolate mix as a gift. One of the most beautiful and practical Christmas gifts we have seen has been a hot chocolate mix in a jar * with a beautiful bow and a little card explaining how to make the drink. It can become a favorite for many people.
We have some recipes using this hot chocolate mix later on in this article. In the basic recipe we have here, we use cocoa powder, but if you have high-quality cacao powder, you can use this powder in the hot chocolate recipes.
This recipe is about as close to instant hot chocolate as you can get. Yes, you will still need to warm up the milk, but you will have far less work to do.
And you can save money with homemade hot chocolate mixes. Simply what making your own hot chocolate mix you will be able to ensure your family is avoiding unnecessary chemicals and sugars. You will not be paying for packaging, which can end up being very expensive. On average, this homemade hot chocolate mix costs just pennies per serving.
Hot Chocolate Recipe with Chocolate Chips
Many of the recipes here will show you how to make a hot chocolate using chocolate chips. In fact, many people say the only way to make a hot chocolate recipe is with real chocolate (we’re divided on which is the best). And this is perfect for people to make hot chocolate without cocoa. We’ve done it more than once when we ran out of cocoa powder.
Here is one of the recipes that we think maybe just the best hot chocolate recipe using real chocolate.
Making Hot Chocolate with Milk
In the vast majority of cases, you will make your hot chocolate with milk. Most of the hot chocolate recipes we have here used. Because you're making the drink with something that is a little bit thicker and higher in protein, you are going to get a creamy hot chocolate. If you're not familiar with using milk in a hot liquid recipe, just follow the directions on how to make the hot chocolate with milk. Remember, just go slow and stir often.
We do not recommend making hot chocolate with half and a half. While it is a bit thicker and many people use it in their coffee, the sheer amount of fat throws off the recipe and creates a beverage that is a little sour.
Hot Chocolate Recipe with Water
Many hot chocolate recipes use milk, but some use water. This one uses powdered milk to get the richness and texture. And that's understandable because there are many people nowadays that just do not keep milk in the house. Using powdered milk is an easy way to get around that little detail. You can then create your hot chocolate recipes with just water.
We did not find a good recipe that does not include some form of milk. You can use regular milk, powdered milk, almond milk, or rice milk. Water just doesn’t provide enough structure to hold the chocolate in suspension and you end up with a lump of bitters on the bottom of the cup and gritty water on the top.
Hot Chocolate Frosting
Good icing or frosting takes a little bit of time to make. Adding the hot chocolate next to this recipe gives it a fine taste that's a little bit different than just plain old chocolate.
Decorate desserts before chilling – cold frosting is difficult to spread evenly.
Hot Chocolate Milkshake
We know what you are thinking – won’t the hot chocolate melt the ice cream? Fortunately, we use the hot chocolate mix made above for this thick hot chocolate flavored milkshake.
Hot Chocolate on a Stick / Hot Chocolate Spoons
A great holiday gift or an idea for a party is to use individual hot chocolate stirring sticks! You can put them right into your hot milk and stir up. Kids especially love this recipe because they get to make their own drink. It’s perfect for kids parties, just be sure to use half full mugs of milk to reduce messes.
To make hot chocolate:
Hot Chocolate Pudding
Most of the recipes here will thicken into a pudding consistency if allowed to cool. This recipe, in particular, will set up to a nice, thick pudding in a short amount of time. It's perfect for adding on to ice cream and cakes.
Hot Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate truffles are simply delicious. This simple recipe takes a bit of time to complete is a great snack.
Coconut Hot Chocolate
Of the various hot chocolate flavors, coconut tends to be the smoothest and most exotic. You can use coconut milk and replace any of the other milk we have listed. If you are using a thickened coconut milk or coconut cream, we recommend using half coconut milk and half the recommended milk. The coconut milk adds a very smooth and tangy flavor. You can also top off your hot chocolate with toasted coconut shavings.
Colombian Hot Chocolate
A very interesting version of hot chocolate is to combine the hot chocolate and coffee. Chocolate and coffee have similar flavors that complement each other very well. This little bit fancier version of hot chocolate is very suited to adults who might not be interested in the childhood hot chocolates.
Eggnog Hot Chocolate
During Christmas time, eggnog is very popular. We don't recommend making some of these other recipes using eggnog in place of milk. The results tend to be a little curdled and have a foul taste. This is why our recipe uses the hot chocolate mix with eggnog.
French Hot Chocolate
The French have given us a hot chocolate drink recipe that is extremely sweet and has removed much of the tang. The mixture of the dark sugar with the chocolate is a fine combination that is used in some of the best cookie recipes.
Frozen Hot Chocolate Recipe
Yes, you can freeze homemade hot chocolate. This cold version of hot chocolate can set up in your freezer and become almost a chocolate ice cream. However, freezing hot chocolate is not iced hot chocolate. In order to make iced hot chocolate, you take your regular hot chocolate, usually a thicker variety, and pour it over ice cubes. This cools down the hot chocolate, which is perfect for summer.
Of course, you can also refer to refrigerate your homemade hot chocolate for a cool drink. In this case you want to use one of the thinner hot chocolate recipes, otherwise, it will set up in the pudding.
Gourmet Hot Chocolate / Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
Many of the gourmet hot chocolate recipes found online tend to be regional variations or some form of gingerbread. These recipes are very delicious and very rich. You do need to be careful with the amount of sugar many of the gourmet hot chocolate mixes. They tend to rely more on sugars than they do flavor. The recipe we have here is extremely flavorful. Just mix it well, so all the spices become incorporated.
Dark Hot Chocolate
Deep, dark hot chocolate is exceptionally rich and just a touch bitter. You can turn any of the recipes here into a dark hot chocolate by substituting the milk chocolate with dark chocolate *. If you are concerned about the sugar content or are diabetic, you can eliminate much of the sugar and use a little bit more of the dark chocolate. The drink will be a little bit thicker and not as sweet.
Irish Hot Chocolate
The Irish are known for adding alcohol to many foods and drinks. Many of the spiked hot chocolate recipes are also called Irish. If you're looking for an alcoholic hot chocolate drink, we recommend adding baileys or whiskey to any of the recipes we have here.
Italian Hot Chocolate
Rich and thick, this hot chocolate reminds us of a thin pudding. In fact, you can chill this recipe and it will set up similar to a mousse.
Lavender Hot Chocolate
Very soothing and calming lavender is a great addition to hot chocolate. It can help you relax and calm anxiety. Lavender tastes great, but you do need to be careful to not overwhelm your chocolates. Too much lavender can taste like soap.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
If you are looking for a spicy hot chocolate similar to what was consumed by the Aztecs and Incans, this is the recipe. We enjoy making hot chocolate ourselves and sprinkling in a little bit of nutmeg and cayenne pepper. It's wonderful for heating up during the cold winter months.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate / Candy Cane Hot Chocolate
You can make a peppermint flavored hot chocolate simply by stirring at candy cane into regular hot chocolate. Chopped up peppermint pieces or candy canes make a wonderful garnish to any hot chocolate.
Peppermint extract * can be found in most grocery stores and is easy to use in many recipes. We do not recommend using peppermint oil as it can cause severe burns to the mouth and esophagus. We, unfortunately, witnessed first-hand how a single drop of peppermint oil placed on the skin of a child caused 2nd degree burns in less than 5 minutes.
Pink Hot Chocolate / White Hot Chocolate
During February, pink is all the rage. You can have a tasty hot chocolate that is pink in color. This is basically a white hot chocolate recipe, we're just adding some red food coloring. If you are adventurous, you could try the recipe a little bit later on in this article for strawberry hot chocolate. It is similar and uses white chocolate in the mix. And it has the added bonus of having strawberries! Who doesn’t love chocolate covered strawberries? (don’t answer if you are allergic to strawberries – you can use cherries instead).
Pumpkin Hot Chocolate
Pumpkin is very popular in October and November. In many farmers markets, you can purchase pre-made pumpkin puree. Most of the rest of the year, you can purchase pumpkin pie filling in the grocery store. When you make this drink make sure you heat the hot chocolate high enough that you release the volatile oils out of the pumpkin and spices. Your drink will be richer and smell better by getting it to the proper temperature.
Spanish Hot Chocolate
This is the type of hot chocolate we prefer. It’s thick, rich, and easy to make. The biggest key to this recipe is to go slow and stir often.
Strawberry Hot Chocolate
Chocolate covered strawberries are one of the best foods in the world. Making hot chocolate with strawberries is absolutely fabulous. If you are allergic to strawberries, you can use cherries, goji berries (see more here about their health benefits), or even blueberries for blue hot chocolate!
In this recipe, we use white chocolate so that the pink of the strawberries is brought out. However, you can use regular chocolate or dark chocolate if you are just looking to just add the strawberry flavor. The drink will still be the color of the chocolate, but don't worry the strawberry flavor will come through just fine.
Vegan Hot Chocolate
Earlier, we talked about how to make hot chocolate without milk if you are looking for vegan options. Hot chocolate is extremely easy to do vegan or vegetarian. We recommend following the recipe for the any of the hot chocolates we have above, just substitute almond or rice milk for the regular milk.
You will just have to be cautious about your level of veganism. The process of making cocoa powder involves the fermentation of the cacao bean. Fermentation is done by living bacteria and yeasts. These bacteria and yeasts are killed when the cocoa powder is dried and ground up. Therefore, cocoa powder is the product of a living being. If you can eat yogurt, you are fine with hot chocolate.
Buying Hot Chocolate
As we said before homemade hot chocolate is the best, you can control the ingredients and how fresh it is. There are some places you can buy hot chocolate milk in both individual servings and bulk that are better than others.
You can buy hot chocolate mixes and packets from the following suppliers.
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