By Beth Clark • January 25, 2019
Hot Chocolate is the global go-to after playing in the snow, après-ski (plus peppermint schnapps, of course), or when you're snowed in, so here are some pro tips on making your own hot cocoa, along with some other ways to warm your body and soul in the chilly depths of winter.
Hot chocolate, also called hot cocoa, is THE quintessential winter warm-up beverage all over the world, and making it from scratch is quick, easy, and molto delizioso. To make two servings, all you need is ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup baking cocoa, ¼ cup hot water, 3 cups milk, ¼ cup half and half or heavy cream, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Combine the sugar and cocoa in a saucepan, then add the hot water slowly, mixing with a whisk. Bring it to a boil and cook for 2 minutes on medium-high, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to medium, stir in the milk and heat it to serving temperature (not boiling). Remove pan from heat, stir in vanilla and half and half or heavy cream, and whisk until frothy, then pour into mugs. (Note: If the recipe is too sweet, add less sugar, and if it's too rich, add more milk…you're the one who'll be f-f-freezing, so it's gotta taste good!)
You can top your hot chocolate with marshmallows, whipped cream, or a sprinkle of cinnamon, and/or garnish it with peppermint sticks, cinnamon sticks or orange zest. For grownups, hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps is a classic – just add it with the vanilla and top it with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candies. For connoisseurs and the more adventurous, Michael Turback's Cocoa Comfort: 50 Cozy Hot Chocolate Recipes to Warm Your Winter includes variations like peanut butter hot cocoa, hot cocoa with chili, and Mezcal Lavender Nightcap Hot Cocoa.
Some hot cocoa reads:
After you come in from the cold and get out of your wet or frozen outerwear, here are some next steps that will help you get warmed up:
Because of their distance from the body's core, hands and feet are more prone to frostbite and harder to warm up once they get wet and cold, especially if they've been cold for too long and are painful or numb. Here are some tips for taking care of frozen fingers and toes: