There's nothing quite like a cozy mug of homemade hot chocolate—here's how to take yours to the next level.

A delicious cup of cocoa is one of the true joys of winter, warming you up on a crisp, snowy day or serving as a decadent pairing for breakfast, snacks, or dessert. When you're looking for an upgrade to your usual hot chocolate, use these eight tips to make fun and inventive drinks that the whole family can enjoy.  

hot chocolate drink with whipped cream
Credit: Yunhee Kim

Marshmallow Shapes

Everyone knows that marshmallows are a crucial component for a quality cup of cocoa. Many opt for mini marshmallows, but if full-size are your preference, consider cutting out some fun shapes. If you're going all out and making your own confections from scratch, use cookie cutters to make creative shapes, like these festive snowflakes. Working with a bag of store-bought puffs? Find the smallest heart-shaped cookie cutter you can, then float a sweet love message in your loved ones' mugs.

Get Toasty

Summer s'mores aren't the only place you'll find toasted marshmallows. They will infuse your hot chocolate with a deep caramelized flavor as they melt. Toast them over an open flame, pop them under the broiler for a few seconds, or give them a quick hit with a kitchen torch if you have one handy—whichever route you take, you won't be disappointed by the tasty results.

Go Beyond Dark Chocolate

If dark chocolate isn't your thing, give milk or white chocolate a try. Both tend to produce a creamier cocoa, more like drinking chocolate in terms of texture. White chocolate pairs particularly well with peppermint during the holidays.

Make It a Mocha

A boost of caffeine with your cocoa? Twist our arms! We love to add a freshly brewed shot of espresso for a grown-up take.

Or an Affogato!

Take that mocha you just prepared and pour it over a scoop of good vanilla bean ice cream. The espresso-spiked cocoa will slowly melt the ice cream to create a dreamy and decadent dessert.

Infuse the Milk

One way to amp up the flavor of your cocoa? Infuse the milk you use when making the hot chocolate with some of your favorite flavors. It's easy: Simply bring the milk and any other flavorings you desire (try a pinch each of ground cinnamon and star anise, or a few strips of orange peel) to a bare simmer, then remove from the heat and cover. Let those flavors steep for at least 15 minutes before you reheat your milk and add the chocolate.

Or the Whipped Cream!

We love to use a cold infusion technique to flavor heavy cream. The day before you want to make hot chocolate, add ingredients like coffee beans, citrus, or spices to a bowl with cold cream, cover and refrigerate overnight. Then strain out the infusions and whip your cream to soft peaks. Dollop over the hot chocolate and sip away.

Freeze It

If you're someone who loves to drink iced coffee all year long, then a frosty hot cocoa might be for you. This rich and frosty Frozen hot chocolate is a test kitchen favorite.


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