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Classic Hot Cocoa and a Hot Cocoa Bar

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When I saw this idea last week  I immediately knew I had to include it in my sweet treat week.  I saw the idea on an episode of Studio 5 (a local television show). Now it all starts off with the recipe for the Classic Hot Cocoa.  The difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa is the type of chocolate used.  Hot chocolate is made with melted chocolate and hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder.  So this recipe starts off with cocoa powder.  Then you add some salt, sugar and half and half to make a chocolate syrup.  Then you add milk to the syrup. It is that easy to make your own homemade cocoa.

You simply must try this recipe.  It is ten time better than any mix you can get in the store.   It is rich, creamy and full of chocolate flavor.  The whole milk is what helps make it so yummy.  You could use 2%, 1% of skim if you want to, but it is so worth it to go for the whole milk!  Now that you have the base it’s time to do some fun variations.  There is a whole list you can try.  If any of you give any of the variations a try let me know what you think of them.

Classic Hot Cocoa | realmomkitchen.com

Now the fantastic idea is to use these recipes for is a Hot Cocoa Bar. 

I think it would be so fun to have a get together when you check out the neighborhood Christmas lights, go caroling to homes in your neighborhood, or have a snowman building party, then come back to a hot cocoa bar.  You could have a few hot cocoa base options like classic, harvest and peppermint.  Then you have an assortment of  mix ins and toppings.  I have a whole list of ideas to have at the bar for this.  Use your imagination.  This would be a great way to enjoy the holidays and even begin a fabulous tradition.  Enjoy!  You can even include the recipe for a hot vanilla that I posted last year.

Classic Hot Cocoa | realmomkitchen.com
Classic Hot Cocoa | realmomkitchen.com

Classic Hot Cocoa

Real Mom Kitchen

5 from 1 vote
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  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/4-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • cup half and half
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • Whipped Cream or Mini Marshmallows


  • Stir together sugar, cocoa and salt in medium saucepan; add half and half.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
  • Simmer 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add milk; stirring constantly, heat to desired serving temperature. Do Not Boil.
  • Remove cocoa from heat; whisk or beat until frothy. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

VARIATIONS – use classic recipe above making the following substitutions:

  • Skinny Cocoa: Eliminate sugar. Combine cocoa, salt and 1/2 cup skim milk; use 4 cups skim milk or reconstituted non-fat dry milk. Proceed as above. When removing from heat stir in enough sugar substitute with sweetening equivalence to equal 1/2 cup sugar.
  • Butterscotch Cocoa: replace sugar with 1/4 cup packed brown sugar; before adding milk stir in1 cup butterscotch baking chips (replacing the sugar with brown sugar also goes well Harvest Spice or Peanut Butter Cocoa variations)
  • Canadian Cocoa: add 1/2-1 teaspoon maple extract after removing from the heat
  • Cocoa Au Lait: serve with a scoop softened vanilla ice cream on top of each cup
  • Eggnog Cocoa: eliminate sugar, substitute milk for the 1/2 cup half and half, substitute 4 cups prepared eggnog for milk; sprinkle with additional nutmeg if desired
  • Harvest Spice Cocoa: add 1-3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice to cocoa powder
  • Mexican Cocoa: add 1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon with cocoa powder
  • Orange Cocoa: add 1/2 teaspoon orange extract when removing from heat
  • Peanut Butter Cocoa: replace 1/3 cup white sugar with 1/3 cup packed brown sugar. Add 1/4 -1/2 cup creamy peanut butter before adding milk; stir until smooth, then add milk. (I think you could do the same thing with Nutella)
  • Peppermint Cocoa: add 1/2 teaspoon mint; add crushed peppermint candies
  • Almond Cocoa: add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Mix ins and Topping ideas for Hot Cocoa Bar

Have the following ingredients in serving bowls with spoons. Family and guests fill their mugs with cocoa then add mix ins and toppings of their choice to ‘customize’ their cocoa.

  • Butterscotch Chips
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Chopped peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans
  • Cinnamon Candies
  • Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Nutella
  • Crushed Peppermint candies
  • Crushed candy canes such as strawberry, orange, or cherry flavored
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Crushed toffee bits
  • Marshmallow Creme
  • Mini M&M’s
  • Sprinkles and Colored Crystals
  • Whipped Cream
  • Reddi Whip – they have chocolate and vanilla flavored
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Caramel Syrup
  • Ice cream in various flavors such as vanilla, mint, caramel
  • Chopped Peanut Butter cups
  • Crushed Butterfinger

Stirring Sticks:

  • Mini straws
  • Candy Cane
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Chocolate coated spoons
snowman marshmallow 1 450

I also found these at the store.  They are French vanilla flavored marshmallows that are shaped like snowmen.  Another fun idea to add to your hot cocoa.


hot cocoa 4 450

This is the original photo from this post. The above photo was updated in December 2014.

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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