Hacking hot chocolate: Mixing up a winter favorite

Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor
Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor
Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor

By Sean Spencer | Staff Writer

With Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter, it’s about to get a whole lot colder before it gets any warmer. On a sweeter note, it gives us more time to enjoy one of winter’s best gifts: hot chocolate or cocoa.

But some may get bored with the same old wintertime drink. Toppings are a great way to add or enhance that hot chocolate flavor, but the classic whip cream and/or vanilla marshmallows may get old.

As Bustle suggests, different toppings can be added such as coconut whipped cream, marshmallow fluff, caramel, caramelized white chocolate, churros, coffee ice cream and chocolate truffles. According to the Kevin & Amanda website, there are a variety of marshmallows that are possible to use like gingerbread, peppermint and Neapolitan. MentalFloss points to other possible ingredients like maple syrup, cinnamon, Oreos, ginger, cherries and chili powder.

In addition, varied toppings can be used like caramel bits, sprinkles, peppermint Andes chips, coconut, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and caramel sauce. Other toppings could be any type of candy, nuts or pieces of chocolate. Some people use sticks to stir as well as to eat like peppermint, cinnamon and pirouettes.

Hot chocolate also comes in more varieties than just regular chocolate.

Different flavors of hot chocolate could include: classic milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, salted caramel, red velvet, gingerbread, s’mores, Nutella and peanut butter.

A common misinterpretation is that hot chocolate and hot cocoa are the same drink. Hot chocolate is made with actual chocolate and milk, while hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder and water. That said, both drinks can have the same add-ons to enhance the flavor of the drink.

Tea can also be fused into hot chocolate, which can add “a subtle undertone of flavor without becoming bitter or overwhelming the drink,” according to TheKitchn. Mint tea, vanilla and caramel flavored teas are all recommended to enhance the flavor of hot chocolate.

Coffee creamer could be used to boost the flavor as well as coffee itself, which creates mocha.

Alcohol is can even be used in some concoctions. Options include Brandy, Kahlua, peppermint schnapps, raspberry liqueur, tequila, amaretto and Bailey’s Irish Crème.

Vegans can also get in on the treat with almond milk, unsweetened cocoa powder and coconut palm sugar.

For those not wanting to do the work themselves, Starbucks offers hot chocolate in different variations: peppermint, peppermint white, skinny peppermint and tuxedo hot cocoa.

Some Duquesne students didn’t know about the endless possibilities of types of hot chocolate.

“I just put whip cream on it and sometimes marshmallows,” freshman Natalia Davila said. She was surprised about the possible add-ons people used.

With the winter still around, and the worst maybe still to come, hot chocolate maybe a great way to cope with the harshness of the cold.