• Thursday Tip-Off: Winter-Ready Hot Chocolate

    Our Thursday Tip-Off series is a weekly set of tips, suggestions, and tricks for making you a better-informed person. You're welcome.

    Even though we were treated to a little dash of summer this past week (70 degrees on the east coast!), before we know it, real winter will be upon us and we'll be shivering, miserable and snow-covered. Since we'll soon be spending 98% of our days huddled up inside, we're going to take this time to bone up on making the perfect, soul-warming hot chocolate. Read on for some of our favorite tips!
    Lead photo by Haley Davis

    Photo via @jaredlank

    If you're going to make cocoa from a powder (whether it's something pre-mixed or a homemade recipe), one way to make sure the drink ends up super smooth, creamy, and without any bubbles of dry powder (ugh) is this: turn the powder into a paste beforehand. Just adding a bit of hot milk (a tablespoon or so) to your powder and stirring until all the dry parts are gone will help immensely; once you have a paste, you can pour the rest of your hot milk on top and continue to stir. The mixture should all blend together much easier than if you'd just dumped your hot milk on top of dry ingredients - and there will be none of the dreaded powder bubbles.

    If you want extra creamy hot cocoa, whisk it instead of stir it. Whisking instead of stirring blends everything together, and makes a lighter, tastier drink. Another option for creamy cocoa is to blend your hot milk before adding it to your cocoa paste. Blending it has almost the same effect as steaming it (the way a barista would), and gives the drink the same quality as a latte.

    Photo via @zoelaz

    Above: Snoopy Glass Holiday Mug

    When it comes to toppings, marshmallows are very important, and over the years, we've found that marshmallows are a science. For the best effect and taste, cut regular-size marshmallows in half before throwing them into the top of your mug. Cutting them in half helps them dissolve more quickly, creating an amazing marshmallow-y foam, and the bigger ones melt better than the baby marshmallows.

    Store-bought whipped cream is fine, but why settle for fine when you can go all out and make homemade whipped cream? Our favorite homemade whipped cream in the entire world is so, so easy to make. All you need is a cup of heavy cream, a couple tablespoons or so of powdered sugar, and a teaspoon (ish) of vanilla extract. The vanilla extract is the key to getting an incredible tasting whipped cream that is perfect on top of cocoa. For an extra kicker, whip up some chocolate whipped cream. All you have to do is melt a little chocolate into your cream. Try it!

    For even more extra oomph in your cocoa, try mixing in some additions. Our favorites? Peppermint, caramel, sea salt, Nutella, almond extract, peanut butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and even flavored coffee creamers. The combinations are literally endless.

    Shop Kitchen + Bar