One of my favorite ways to warm up in the winter is with a steamy mug of hot cocoa. It’s brings back all the nostalgia from childhood, when I loved to spend snow days curled up with a blanket and a Babysitters Club book and watch the snow fall out our back window.
The first chocolate drink was created over 2,000 years ago by the Aztecs of Central America. It was made with ground cocoa beans and water thickened with cornmeal, flavored with chilies and whipped until frothy. It was a bitter, spicy drink, frequently served cold – very different from the sweet and creamy hot cocoa of today! In the 1500s, the bitter version of cocoa was brought back to Europe where it became popular with the upper class, who soon after invented sweet hot cocoa. It wasn’t until the 1800s when cocoa powder was invented, which is easier to stir into milk.
Hot cocoa is one of my favorite ways to get the antioxidant rich benefits (and delicious taste!) of chocolate. Studies have shown dark chocolate has many heath benefits:
- Lower blood pressure
- Healthier cholesterol
- Reduces production of stress hormones
- Improves cognition
- Increases insulin sensitivity
- Improves blood flow
Here are 7 wholesome hot cocoa recipes to try at home
Vegan Salted Hazelnut Hot Cocoa (Makes 4)
For the cocoa
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 cups cashew milk (or you can use any other milk substitute)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon hazelnut butter
- ¼ cup cocoa (unsweetened)
- ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
For the garnish
- ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
- ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
- Pinch of flaky sea salt
- Place all the cocoa ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed for a minute or so. Pour the contents in a pan and bring to simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until chocolate dissolves. Taste and adjust sweetness if needed (if you like it extra decadent add ¼ more dark chocolate chips, but careful! It’ll be strong)
- For the garnish: mix the hazelnuts and salt. On a double boiler (a pot with barely simmering water with a metal bowl on top) place the dark chocolate and let it melt. Dip the jar or glass rim in the chocolate then dip it in the hazelnut and salt mix.
- Pour the hot cocoa in the prepared glasses.
The stuff you use to make hummus also lends hot cocoa a creamy, nutty flavor! Tahini is also a surprising source of calcium.
An easy way to sneak in everyone’s favorite super spice. Powerfully anti-inflammatory, turmeric has been shown to benefit cognitive health and prevent dementia.
With everything from chia to maca to spices. It’s even got one secret ingredient that will really make you scratch your head – beets!
This spicy hot cocoa was inspired by the original Mexican version. It uses cinnamon, which helps lower blood sugar, cayenne, and is thickened with a little almond flour.
This basic hot cocoa recipe let’s you control the sweetness and type of dairy. If you like, top it with a dollop of coconut whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
While technically not hot cocoa, this chocolatey smoothie is a tasty way to start the day! It blends frozen chocolate milk and avocado to make a rich, creamy smoothie that gets topped with caramelized bananas.
What’s your favorite way to make hot cocoa? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter at @luvoinc, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, Plated, to unlock a $2 coupon to use on your next Luvo purchase.