Hot Chocolate Recommendations?
October 10, 2006 10:21 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend me a good brand of hot chocolate?

I don't drink that much of it, but now that it's starting to get cold here in Colorado, I'd like to be drinking something with more quality than swiss miss...

Also: Do you have any other tips on making it, perhaps even making a mix myself?
posted by cschneid to Food & Drink (46 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
Nothing beats making your own Dutch process cocoa powder, sugar, warm milk (proportions are up to you, but the cocoa box should suggest a starting point).

Optional: whipped cream and dash of cinnamon and fresh-grated nutmeg on top.

Ridiculously easy to make, and can't be beat.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:26 PM on October 10, 2006

except with a period after "own".
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:26 PM on October 10, 2006

La Abuelita, though it's made by evil Nestle, is better than Swiss Miss. Should be found in a grocery store's Mexican section or in any Mexican grocery store (plus they may have some other brands/flavors).
posted by Pollomacho at 10:39 PM on October 10, 2006

The best hot chocolate?

As jamaro says. I like to use Lindt.

A few extra things you can add:

-Full Cream
-Vanilla Bean/Essence

Now all you need is a cold rainy wet day. Possibly move to Seattle.
posted by oxford blue at 10:41 PM on October 10, 2006

Start with Cocoa Powder Cacao Barry Extra Brute.
posted by jet_silver at 10:44 PM on October 10, 2006

I really like the cocoa camino milk and dark chocolate mixes--fair trade and organic to boot. No idea if it's available near you, alas.
posted by stray at 11:07 PM on October 10, 2006

Mmm. Hot chocolate.

My favorite homemade recipe:

2 1/2 oz. super high-quality dark chocolate, all smashed up
1 vanilla bean (optional)
2 tsp sugar
1 c. milk
1/2 c. heavy cream

Slowly heat in a saucepan, stirring/whisking often.

Pour into a cup, add cinnamon to taste, and top with a dollop of homemade whipped cream and some cocoa powder.

(Of course, if that's too much work, you can't go wrong with Abuelita...mmm)
posted by logic vs love at 11:07 PM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

Since people are discussing Abuelita, which is great, I thought I'd add that I have a slight preference for Ibarra which is less sweet. Used not only to make hot chocolate but also its rich, thicker cousin - Champurrado.

If you live in San Francisco and are too lazy to make Champurrado, there are places in the Mission to get it, including Delfin on 24th which also makes a great Atole de Nuez.
posted by vacapinta at 11:27 PM on October 10, 2006

I highly recommend Dick Smith OzeChoc, if you want to import something you won't find locally.
posted by krisjohn at 11:47 PM on October 10, 2006

Abuelita < ibarra a href="">Rey Amargo

I have seen Rey Amargo in SF, but not often.

The harder the chocolate, the better it tastes after dissolving in boiling milk. Rey Amargo used to be so hard that we would wrap it in a dishcloth and hit it with a hammer :)

Most companies are making their chocolate softer. That happened to Abuelita after Nestle.

Vacapinta, next day it rains, I'll be on Delfin. Do you happen to know who sells the best elotes?
posted by Dataphage at 12:05 AM on October 11, 2006

That looked good on live preview, sorry.

Rey Amargo
posted by Dataphage at 12:06 AM on October 11, 2006

Best answer: Godiva makes some very nice hot cocoa mixes. For the full experience, warm up a mixture of milk somewhat richer than whole milk (I use about half whole milk, about half half-and-half).

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a barista at a bookstore's cafe, and we make hot chocolate as above with the Godiva Classic Milk Chocolate mix.
posted by Cricket at 12:38 AM on October 11, 2006

Green and Black's organic cocoa powder is my favourite.
posted by handee at 5:02 AM on October 11, 2006

logic vs. love has the right answer.

Once you start drinking real hot chocolate instead of cocoa powder mixes, you'll never go back to cocoa.

Don't use milk chocolate, though. And don't use the chocolates that are upward of 70% cacao. A good bittersweet chocolate around 65% like Ghirardelli is my choice.
posted by briank at 5:06 AM on October 11, 2006

There seems to be some confusion here between Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate. The first is made with cocoa powder, the second with pieces of chocolate. Nestles Abuelita is a hot chocolate, anything made with cocoa isn't. The only reason this matters is because hto chocolate is so much richer and better than hot cocoa that one should respect it by naming it correctly.

Last year for christmas someone gave me (sort of) a container of Jacques Torres Hot Chocolate, which is not only made with good chocolate, but also has a nice hint of hot peppers, which all add up to a fabulous drink. It's very rich (a little goes a long way), and may be the most delicious thing I'v ever had to drink. If you're not going to be drinking a ton, it's worth it to drink the best.
posted by OmieWise at 5:17 AM on October 11, 2006

For a more hardcore cup of hot chocolate, Schokinag and Scharffen Berger make excellent drinking chocolate. These can be made either at full-bore concentration/thickness or more like traditional hot chocolate, depending on what ratio of chocolate:milk is used.
posted by shoos at 5:25 AM on October 11, 2006

My personal favorite is Mocafe's Azteca D'Oro (sorry, stupid flash site so I can't link directly to that product.

It's probably similar to Abuelita (never tried it myself). It has a cinnamony flavor with a slight hint of hot peppers (if you've never tried hot peppers and cocoa, you're missing out. Trust me.). It's easy enough to find at your local small coffee house or to order online. It MUST be made with steamed milk, though, so if you don't have an espresso machine don't bother. I got my espresso machine for $5 at the local Goodwill, though. :)
posted by Spoonman at 5:42 AM on October 11, 2006

miagaille and I second and third Jacques Torres Hot Chocolate. Especially the 'wicked' version with the hot peppers.

We also make our own, which is a bit less rich, by putting whole milk and chocolate (we use Ghirardelli because it's reasonable quality and easy to find locally, but any good quality chocolate will do - you want something high in cocoa butter) into a pot and boiling it. Approx 1 cup milk and 4 oz chocolate (yes, that much chocolate!) makes each cup of hot chocolate.

Oh, and sugar. Brown sugar. Lots of it. To taste. We also put in cinnamon, and sometimes nutmeg, and sometimes General Foods International Vanilla Creme vanilla drink mix to make it a little richer and vanilla-y-er.

For this recipe, and, even more importantly, for Jacques Torres Hot Chocolate, you absolutely must bring the mixture to a full rolling boil for 15 seconds while stirring rapidly. Beware - the mixture will expand almost fivefold in apparent volume when it does this - so use an appropriately sized pot. If you don't do this, the fats won't behave properly and your hot chocolate won't taste like anything.
posted by dmd at 6:03 AM on October 11, 2006

I'm partial to Jeffrey Steingarten's Chocolat Chaud, adapted from a recipe by Pierre Herme (erm, I'm sure there should be an accent in there someplace, sorry).

2 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (he says to use superfine, but I don't really see why--it's being dissolved in hot liquid, after all)
3 1/2 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate (this is usually one ordinary bar)
1/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder (I use Double Dutch from King Arthur)

In a saucepan, stir together milk, water & sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

Chop up the chocolate and add it to the liquid along with the cocoa powder. Whisk until dissolved.

Reduce heat to very low. Whizz with an immersion blender (or pour carefully into a regular blender) until frothy.

I skip the whizzing sometimes in the interest of keeping the kitchen clean.
posted by bcwinters at 6:08 AM on October 11, 2006

+1 for Scharffen Berger. Sooooo yummy! But if you're in a situation where you need a mix instead, I second the Godiva recommendation.
posted by somanyamys at 6:11 AM on October 11, 2006

Droste - unsweetened so you can make it with good milk (whole or two percent is best) and sugar to your taste. Made in the microwave, it takes barely longer than Swiss Miss, but it's a totally different experience. Mmmm...almost makes you want cold weather to hurry up and get here already.
posted by walla at 6:30 AM on October 11, 2006

I've been quite happy with Ghiradelli. The way I make it is to put two heaping tablespoons each of cocoa and sugar into a mug and scald a little less than a mug of milk on the stove. Add a few tablespoons of hot milk to your cocoa and stir until smooth. Add a several more and stir until smooth. Add the rest and stir. Enjoy.
posted by plinth at 6:36 AM on October 11, 2006

Whether you're making stuff with cocoa powder or real chocolate, I highly suggest adding a little mint flavoring [I'd go for peppermint extract, personally]. Mmmmm, hot chocolate.
posted by ubersturm at 6:40 AM on October 11, 2006

My method (counts as cocoa, really, but it's really good) -

1 large teaspoonful of Green & Blacks fairtrade organic cocoa powder, (and if you can't get this in the States then I shall light a candle for you all as there is no hope for the world), one large teaspoonful of honey, put in a mug, add a splash of milk and mix to a paste, heat remaining milk in a saucepan slowly (*don't* boil it) then add milk, stirring constantly.

posted by altolinguistic at 6:57 AM on October 11, 2006

If you want to treat yourself (and feel like dying and going to heaven today) splurge on some MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolate. (New Yorkers, do yourself a favor and trek to SoHo for a cup in their store.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:58 AM on October 11, 2006

+1 on the MarieBelle Aztec
posted by rmless at 7:45 AM on October 11, 2006

I'm a big fan of Dagoba's Xocolatl Hot Chocolate. It is a little sweet, but it is an unusual treat.

Failing that, as other posters have suggested, google a homemade recipe and blend it yourself. I've had a lot of fun developing my own recipes, but they've spoiled me for sweeter drinks. Making your own is an opportunity to build the most chocolate-y drink ever.

Share and enjoy.
posted by rachelpapers at 7:57 AM on October 11, 2006

Another vote for Ibarra. Since I was a kid, this has always been the ultimate gold standard of hot chocolate.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:09 AM on October 11, 2006

Almond extract tastes really good in cocoa as well.
posted by hopeless romantique at 8:30 AM on October 11, 2006

It was mentioned above, but I do like a small pinch of cayenne in my hot chocolate...its very interesting.
posted by mmascolino at 8:36 AM on October 11, 2006

With whatever mixture you use, a drop or two of vanilla extract always rounds out the flavor. YMMV.

Almond extract is also nice, as stated above... but my personal favorite? Plop one of those hard red-and-white Starlight Mints in the bottom of the cup. Mmm...!
posted by Adelwolf at 8:39 AM on October 11, 2006

3 3-quart boxes Carnation instant milk
1 box powdered sugar
30 ounce box Nestle’s Quick
16 ounce container Coffee Mate(can use French vanilla or plain)

In a large container, mix all ingredients. It’s easiest if you have a large container with a lid so that you can just put the ingredients in, put the lid on and shake the ingredients to mix. Add 2/3 cup (more or less to taste) of mix to 12 ounces hot water. Stir and enjoy! Store mix in a covered container.

also . . .

Iced Hot Chocolate

3 ¾ cups whole milk
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
6 ounces imported bittersweet chocolate (use a good quality)(not unsweetened), finely chopped
12 ice cubes

Bring 3 cups of milk, 1/3 cup water, and sugar to a simmer in heavy large saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 4 hours). Mix ¾ cup milk into chocolate mixture. Working in batches, blend until frothy. Divide ice among 4 glasses. Pour chocolate mixture over and serve. Makes 4 servings.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:56 AM on October 11, 2006

I always went the easy route...2 cups of hot milk in a blender with 1/2 cup M&M's (or to your taste)...

Love it!
posted by keep it tight at 8:57 AM on October 11, 2006

I've been satisfied with Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate for many years. No hassle (unlike the 'real' recipes above), and sometimes I add a dash of cinnamon.

My method utilizes a stovetop steamer to heat up the milk/cocoa mixture.
posted by Rash at 9:32 AM on October 11, 2006

Vosges is probably the best Chocolate (Hot or oterwise) I've ever had.. although they don't seem to have Hot Chocolate on the site right now :-(
posted by niteHawk at 9:34 AM on October 11, 2006

Don't forget to put a pinch of salt into the cocoa or hot chocolate if you're making it by scratch. It turns something yummy into something incredible.
posted by Addlepated at 10:19 AM on October 11, 2006

A note on the liquid you use. I've been hooked lately on making my hot chocolate with chocolate Almond Dream (milk-like beverage made from almonds). Since it's already chocolate flavored, I cut back on the cocoa powder by about a third, and the result is ten times better than anything I've had with regular milk or water instead.
posted by wolftrouble at 10:21 AM on October 11, 2006

Equal Exchange sells hot cocoa mix, cocoa powder, and chocolate bars that you can use for various above recipes, the difference being that the chocolate is Fair Trade, so you know you're supporting farmers who are sending their kids to school and not using slave labor.
posted by rikschell at 10:47 AM on October 11, 2006

Just to add another favorite to the mix, I really enjoy hot chocolate from Burdick's. It's the same as others have mentioned- chocolate mixed with milk, heat and stir.

Even something as simple as the Godiva mix will be a great improvement over Swiss Miss, though. Don't feel bad if you just want a mix you can microwave. Sure, you'll miss out on some amazing variations, but if it's not your bag the burning milk may ruin the pleasure.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 10:49 AM on October 11, 2006

Get a block of Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate or whatever fits your budget. Grate it using a fine grater, a microplane works best. Put the gratings in a container and shake vigorously, briefly.

Mix together and sift:
  • 1T(15 mL) of powdered sugar
  • 1T cayenne or dark chili powder(cayenne is spicier)
  • 1 pint(~.5L) finely grated chocolate.

    You can add 1T of espresso grounds to the mix for a little kick.

    Add 2-3 heaping tablespoons per pint of whole milk in a heavy bottom pot and heat while stirring with a whisk. Alternatively, because it's so fine ground, you can pour the hot milk into the cocoa while stirring. For a real treat, add a drop of lemon and almond extract to a cup of cold heavy cream. Beat until semi-firm, then add a couple tablespoons of fine powdered sugar and beat until fairly stiff. Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon if you like.

  • posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:56 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

    I know going insta-with-water is the cheater's way, but Stephen's makes a pretty decent instant cocoa. Huge step up from Swiss Miss, while requiring no extra effort. It's even better when you add a splash of almond or hazelnut liqueur. (I do have a container of Equal Exchange at work, but it doesn't taste very good and is incredibly lump-prone to boot.)

    The previous posters are quite right: grated bittersweet chocolate + milk is the only real way to go. But if you're feeling lazy, try the Stephen's.
    posted by Vervain at 10:58 AM on October 11, 2006

    No discussion of NYC hot chocolate would be complete without mentioning City Bakery. It's chocolate, not cocoa, and I think it's made with cream, though they're secretive with the recipe. It's basically melted ganache in a cup. (Get the smallest size, it'll be plenty, trust me.)
    posted by bink at 3:29 PM on October 11, 2006

    I use this chai recipe to make a batch of condensed milk chai concentrate (without any tea). After it has seasoned for 24 hours, I keep it in the freezer. Then I add it to a cup of hot water with a spoon or two of cocoa powder to get an instant Chai hot cocoa.

    Not as luxurious as the many suggestions above, but pretty tasty and quick for making at work.

    Odd thing, though -- chai spice tastes good with black tea or with chocolate, and chocolate tastes good with coffee, but chai spice mix really tastes awful with coffee. It's not the cinnamon, must be one of the other spices.
    posted by Araucaria at 3:52 PM on October 11, 2006

    I am also a big fan of the chocolate-based hot chocolate plus bringing to a proper boil. This can be combined with immersion blender for enhanced stirring-very-rapidly effect. Please follow the advice about the pinch of salt, too -- everyone with recipes that don't include it should totally give it a try!
    posted by redfoxtail at 5:21 PM on October 11, 2006

    In this order, I prefer:

    1. Lindt 70% or more
    2. Guittard
    posted by Monkey0nCrack at 8:24 AM on October 12, 2006

    Williams Sonoma makes a really delish chocolate mint variety and it comes in a cute tin. And it's basically shaved chocolate! Yum.
    posted by clairezulkey at 2:19 PM on October 12, 2006

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