If you live on the East Coast and have eyes, you've probably noticed that winter is already here. No, it's not the "Polar Vortex" nor is it a "bomb cyclone." It's just good old-fashioned winter. And what better way to passive aggressively combat old man winter than to sit around with a warming mug of hot chocolate? No, wait, scratch that. I do know a better way. Add some booze to that hot chocolate. Honestly, is there any other way to improve classic comfort?
Just as I started my virtual search for the perfect hot chocolate recipes to fortify, I got to thinking: Why hot chocolate? Where's it from, how'd it get here, and who drank it first? Luckily for me, the History Channel and a solid Starbucks Wi-Fi connection satiated my thirst for knowledge. Hot chocolate, or what was traditionally called xocolatl, was first cultivated 4,000 years ago by the Olmec in southern Mexico and was solely reserved for the privileged perch of sacred ceremony. The frothy drink was originally made from ground cacao nibs and water, and was believed to have mystic qualities, holding quite the reputation as an energy booster and mood enhancer. Eventually, the Olmecs passed it on to the Mayans who passed it on to the Aztecs. Legend has it, just after famed Spanish Conquistador Cortes conquered the Aztecs, he brought that bronze nectar back to Spain, where it quickly spread throughout Europe, and eventually, North America. Useless bar trivia enthusiasts, you're welcome.
And today? South Americans enjoy their hot chocolate with queso. Europeans enjoy it extra thick. And me? Like most food-drink products, I enjoy mine with copious amounts of alcohol. I've included my nine favorite hot chocolate recipes below with extra-warming boozy add-ons to boot. Pfft, old man winter doesn't stand a chance.
1. Red Velvet Hot Chocolate
Our friends at A Cozy Kitchen offer up some solid winter weekend advice: Take a break from sleeping 14 hours a day to make a liquid version of this traditional crimson cake. (Then upon completion, immediately return to bed and Netflix.)
Boozy Addition: Amaretto
2. Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Pastry Affair makes her holiday-inspired drink with chopped melted chocolate, whole milk, and crushed candy canes.
Boozy Addition: Peppermint Schnapps
3. White Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
The lightest on the list, Ari's gingered version calls for almond milk and pure maple syrup.
Boozy Addition: Whipped cream vodka
4. Hot Chocolate with Sea Salt Whipped Cream
Top your hot chocolate with sea salt, and as the whipped cream slowly melts down, you'll begin to enjoy slightly salty chocolatey richness. See how Eva from Adventures in Cooking does it here.
Boozy Addition: Bourbon
5. S'mores Hot Chocolate
Who needs a campfire to enjoy s'mores? Just add chocolate sauce and a graham cracker rim, and boom, your favorite kid treat becomes an adult reality. Ari's menu offers up a vegan version, but I prefer the full fat version, opting for whole milk and traditional puffy marshmallows.
Boozy Addition: Frangelico
6. Vanilla Bean White Hot Chocolate
Three words: coconut almond marshmallows. Thank you, Brave Tart.
Boozy Addition: Vanilla flavored vodka
7. Frozen Hot Chocolate
One of these things is not like the other. And that's totally cool, as long as it tastes like a Wendy's frosty. Get the 15-minute recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.
Boozy Addition: Kahlua
8. Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate
I know, I know. We're all sick and tired of the P word. But this is no PSL. This is pumpkin spice white chocolate with whipped cream, where sprinkles are always required, never optional. Cookie Monster Cooking shows us how to DIY the PSWHC here.
Boozy Addition: Rum
9. A Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate
Five and Spice author Emily perfectly describes it as "...a cup of chocolate that demands attention and contemplation, not just casual sipping." Nailed it, sister.
Boozy Addition: Bailey's
Images: Masatoshi_/Flickr; Pastry Affair; A Cozy Kitchen; Ari's Menu (2); Adventures in Cooking; Brave Tart; Brown Eyed Baker; Cookie Monster Cooking; Five and Spice