When you’re craving homemade hot chocolate while traveling, make this simple recipe with just a microwave in your hotel, ski lodge, or even kitchen if you’re too tired to use the stove. Read on for dozens of topping and mix-in ideas to make your hot chocolate extra indulgent.
This recipe differs from many other 5-minute homemade hot chocolate recipes, even ones with 2 ingredients, because it is made in a microwave and the technique emphasizes how to get the smoothest possible hot chocolate.
I designed this recipe for my friend Benjamin who is traveling in Copenhagen this week and may only have access to a microwave.
You’ll love this hot chocolate recipe if you are staying in a hotel, living in a dorm room in college, or simply don’t want to fuss around with making hot chocolate on a stovetop.
How to Make The Smoothest Hot Chocolate
After making dozens of cups of hot chocolate, I found the two biggest challenges to smooth hot chocolate are accidentally curdling the milk and chocolate clumps because the melted chocolate doesn’t emulsify in the milk. Here are the tips you need to make the smoothest hot chocolate without clumps:
- Use baking chocolate or a chocolate bar. It is possible to make smooth hot chocolate with cocoa powder but it requires a lot of work.
- Make a paste by melting the chocolate with a tablespoon of milk and mixing it. Making a chocolate paste is the surest way to guarantee your hot chocolate doesn’t clump.
- Do not microwave the milk until it is boiling. Once you boil the milk, it denatures the protein. Curdling the milk causes clumps. That’s why the recipe calls for heating the hot chocolate for a minute, stirring, and continuing to heat. It’s also a pain to clean your microwave when the milk overflows out of your mug.
How Do I Make Hot Chocolate Better?
To make the hot chocolate extra rich and decadent, increase the amount of chocolate and substitute a tablespoon of the milk for heavy whipping cream.
Or follow Alex’s lead and make the hot chocolate with half-and-half and heavy whipping cream.
Use the best quality chocolate you can find. My favorites are Trade Joe’s Pound Plus 72% cacao dark chocolate and Guittard’s dark baking chocolate at 70% cacao. Both are in red packaging.
Spruce up your hot chocolate with the following mix-ins, toppings, and milk steepings. Mix-ins are flavorings that you add after the milk to flavor your hot chocolate. Toppings differ from mix-ins because they are added on top of your hot chocolate before serving rather than dissolved into your hot chocolate. Steeping herbs and spices into your milk can also create different flavored hot chocolate.
Tasty Hot Chocolate Mix-Ins
- Instant coffee
- Peppermint extract
- Almond extract
- Orange extract
- Maple syrup
- Peanut butter
- Speculoos spread
- Ice cream (while any flavors work, I like mint chocolate chip ice cream for this purpose)
Tasty Hot Chocolate Toppings
- Whipped cream
- Caramel sauce
- Sea salt
- Chocolate shavings
- Crushed up candy canes
- Cocoa powder
Herbs and Spices to Steep Milk In
Pour warm milk in these herbs and spices and steep for an hour if you don’t mind extra work to add extra flavors
- Mint leaves (or peppermint tea)
- Masala chai spices
- Basil leaves
If you have additional ideas for hot chocolate mix-ins, toppings, and steeping herbs and spices, leave a comment in the post to share it with fellow readers.
How to Make Vegan Hot Chocolate
Whether you’re lactose-intolerant or vegan, there might be reasons you want to avoid cow milk in your hot chocolate. To make your hot chocolate vegan, make sure you’re using dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, which might contain milk solids.
Substitute the cow milk with dairy-free milk, including soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, or even trendy oat milk.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, double check your toppings are vegan. For example, make sure your marshmallows don’t contain gelatin.
How to Make Paleo Hot Chocolate
If you don’t consume dairy, substitute with coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or another milk that agrees with your paleo diet.
And definitely drink the hot chocolate in the snow, because that’s probably what cavemen used to do when they made hot chocolate.
How to Make Sugar-Free Hot Chocolate
Use the highest percent of chocolate you can find to reduce the amount of sugar in your hot chocolate. You probably won’t be able to find cooking or baking chocolate with higher than 75% cacao, which means you can use chocolate bars made for eating, which are typically in a different aisle than the baking goods in your grocery store.
You can find 100% cacao chocolate bars at Trader Joe’s. Many other grocery stores, including Safeway and Whole Foods, sell 85% cacao chocolate bars.
If the hot chocolate is too bitter with 100% cacao chocolate bars, you can add maple syrup, honey, or monkfruit (luo han guo) to sweeten your hot chocolate (or stevia, but I’m not a fan of how stevia tastes).
We tried adding cocoa powder to the hot chocolate to reduce the sweetness. It works but it adds gritty texture, and it clumps easily so it’s extra work to make smooth hot chocolate.
- Microwave-safe mug
- 1.5 ounces Chocolate (About 3 big squares or 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips)
- 1 cup Milk (Use half-and-half, a vegan milk option, or a combination based on your preferences. You can use cold milk straight from the fridge.)
- Gather the ingredients.
- Put the chocolate in the microwave-safe mug with 1 tablespoon of milk. Heat the chocolate with the milk in the microwave on high for 1 minute.
- Use a fork to stir the melted chocolate into the 1 tablespoon of warm milk until it forms a shiny, smooth paste.
- Add the remaining cold milk to the chocolate paste. If you are adding any hot chocolate mix-ins, like vanilla extract, add them now. Heat in the microwave on high for 1 minute.
- Remove the hot chocolate from the microwave. Stir the hot chocolate until thoroughly mixed. If you are happy with the hot chocolate, it is ready to drink. If you're finding clumps, chocolate chunks, or undissolved mix-ins, proceed to the next step.
- Microwave hot chocolate on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Monitor the hot chocolate to prevent the milk from spilling over. Stop heating the hot chocolate if it looks like the hot chocolate is boiling in the mug.
- Use a spatula to stir the hot chocolate to get rid of last-minute clumps. Add the desired hot chocolate toppings and serve.
- Enjoy your homemade hot chocolate!
What to Eat With Hot Chocolate
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FAQ About Hot Chocolate
How Long Does The Hot Chocolate Last in The Fridge?
You can put unfinished hot chocolate in the fridge and reheat it in the microwave. We tested hot chocolate left in the fridge of 3 days and it tasted just as good upon reheating.
The “cool” chocolate will separate. Give it a good stir before you put it in the microwave to heat up. If you followed the recipe correctly to make smooth hot chocolate, your drink should be smooth and emulsified once you reheat it. We added instant coffee to the leftover chocolate to make a mocha.
How Can I Enjoy Snow with My Hot Chocolate?
Come to visit me in Boulder, Colorado. We’ll sit in the tea-sipping area downstairs from our apartment. You’ll get to enjoy hot chocolate in a range of snowstorms.