Few winter-time pleasures are more basic (in a good way) than a cup of hot cocoa—although if you’re sipping on something that started as a powder, you are missing out. Here are two recipes for at-home, made-from-scratch hot chocolate. The key for each, though, is to start off with high-quality chocolate. Do that, and you’ll never use a powder again.

Water-based drinking chocolate

Despite having only two ingredients—dark chocolate and water—this recipe is not for the faint of heart. Cookbook author Megan Giller got this recipe from Aubrey Lindley, the co-owner of cult chocolate shop Cacao in Portland, Oregon, and has included it in her book, Bean To Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution (2017).

Serves 2


1 cup of water

8 ounces dark chocolate (68-75% cocoa) chopped


Bring the water to a boil in a small pan. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Cover and let sit for 30-45 seconds. Whisk gently and scrape the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula to make sure the chocolate isn’t stuck to it. Put the pan back on the burner (keep it turned off) and let it rest until the chocolate is completely melted, 2-3 minutes. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two to emulsify. Check the consistency on the back of a clean spoon. If it is lumpy, keep mixing. If it sticks and is smooth, it’s done. Don’t confuse bubbles for clumps; small air bubbles are okay. Some bits of chocolate will stubbornly remain at the bottom of the pan. Serve warm. The flavours and texture will evolve as it gradually cools and rests.

Mission Hot Chocolate

This advanced recipe from Dandelion Chocolate, a chocolate factory, is a homage to San Francisco’s Mission District, a centre of food, culture, music and murals. Spicy and rich, it could be its own dessert course and adapts well for vegans. Simply replace non-fat and whole milk with unsweetened almond milk.

Serves 5


1 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp ground pasilla chillies

1 cup non-fat milk or unsweetened
almond milk

1 cup 70% chocolate chips

1 vanilla bean

4 cups whole milk


Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, and pasilla in a small bowl, whisking to combine. Set aside. Using a paring knife, gently slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the inside of the pod using the back of the knife blade. Heat non-fat milk in a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. When the milk is steaming, add the chocolate to the bowl. Whisk chocolate and milk together until the chocolate is fully combined and the ganache is thick and shiny. Add the brown sugar spice mixture and vanilla bean seeds and whisk until incorporated, continuing to heat the mixture over the pot. Add whole milk to the ganache, whisking to combine. Heat hot chocolate for another 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until steaming. Remove the bowl from the pot and serve immediately.

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