Vanilla Spiced Boozy Hot Cocoa
Spiked Hot Chocolate with Ground Vanilla Beans
You know those people who are always cold, the ones whose fingers feel like icicles on 80 degree days, and who complain about winter starting in September because it means months of being chilled to the bone? Confession—I’m one of those people. I start dreading winter once the first day of summer is behind us. That’s not to say I think winter is all bad. As with all seasons, it’s the culinary aspects that get me excited. When the chill sets in, I warm up from the inside-out, starting with comfort foods and steamy beverages.
Of course, that means hot cocoa frequents my kitchen, but my family doesn’t settle for a powdered mix that is filled with artificial flavors, sucralose, and other unrecognizable ingredients. We make ours from scratch and incorporate real ingredients. Sure, it takes a bit longer to grate real chocolate and pour in maple syrup than it does to rip open a packet of cheap powdered mix, but not much longer and the flavor and texture in your cup of homemade hot cocoa will make it well worth it.
This year, we’ve upped the flavor game in our hot cocoa with powdered vanilla bean. The warm flavor tones and floral notes in the vanilla bean really draw out the nuttiness of the cocoa and create a beautiful balance with the natural bitterness of cacao.
On more festive occasions or when I need a bit more help warming up, I’ll also add some schnapps, bourbon, or rum to my hot cocoa. I especially love this with homemade butterscotch schnapps!
Recipe for the world’s best cup of hot chocolate
Yields 4 servings
- 2 ounces grated unsweetened baking chocolate (alternatively, you can chop it into small cubes)
- 1 teaspoon ground vanilla beans
- 3 ½ cups milk, milk substitute or half and half (depending on desired creaminess)
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Bourbon, Rum, or Schnapps (I like peppermint or butterscotch)
- Optional: marshmallows, whipped cream, coconut cream, ground nutmeg, cacao nibs, and/or cinnamon quills for serving.
- Add your vanilla powder and your milk to a saucepan over medium heat, stir it frequently.
- Once the milk begins to steam, slowly whisk in the cacao, a little at a time so you don’t cool the milk.
- When all the cacao has melted, pull the cocoa from the heat and stir in the maple syrup.
- Pour in 2 ounces of liquor into a mug and top with hot cocoa.
Top with vanilla whipped cream, coconut cream, or marshmallows.
Note: If you prefer to use unsweetened cocoa powder, no problem. I like the creaminess the solid cacao adds when melted, but it can be exchanged with the powdered form. Just skip step 2 and mix it in alongside the vanilla powder.