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Cocoa O-M-G

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By: Elizabeth Winslow
Cocoa O-M-G

We'll gladly take winter's chill if the season means curling up with a mug of hot cocoa. There's no better way to banish the cold and the dark than with a homemade concoction that will make you forget all about packaged mixes. From festive, candy-sprinkled versions that will bring out the kid in everyone, to more sophisticated mugs flavored with spicy chiles or grown-up spirits, there are plenty of ways to stay warm night after cozy night.

Start by choosing your ingredients with care. For a truly stellar mug of hot chocolate, you'll want the best of everything and the flavors of Spice Islands® spices are a great place to start.

Chocolate  

You can make hot chocolate with either cocoa powder or melting chocolate. Either way you go, you'll want to start with top-quality chocolate from a venerable chocolate maker. Cocoa will be unsweetened, and you'll want Dutch processed for the best quality. If you go cocoa-only, you'll need to add sugar, honey, maple syrup or another sweetener. Melting chocolate can also be unsweetened, but if you opt for semi-sweet or bittersweet, you won't need any additional sweetener.

Milk  

Nut milks (think almond, hempseed and pecan), coconut milk, soymilk and dairy are all fair and adventurous game, or just go with classic, rich cream or whole milk.

Flavor Enhancers

Here's where the fun really begins: Play around with liqueurs, spirits and nut butters, extracts like almond or vanilla, and spices such as cinnamon, mint, star anise, chipotle chile and sweet orange peel.

Toppings

Don't forget to think about how you're going to top it off! Marshmallows, sprinkles, whipped cream and crushed candy canes are all great ways to personalize your cup. Sweeten your whipped cream with a little vanilla or almond extract for more flavor.

Inspired? Warm up tonight with coffee-fortified Brazilian hot chocolate, a brandyspiked hot chocolate toddy, or warm and cozy cinnamon hot chocolate.

Elizabeth Winslow is a writer, food blogger, culinary instructor and entrepreneur in Austin, Texas. She is a regular contributor to Edible Austin and creates compelling content for brands both large and small. She has an M.A. in Literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio and teaches cooking classes with Kitchen Underground. Winslow + co.

Spice Islands® spices deliver high quality, authentic flavors from all over the world so you can put the most delicious meals on your table.

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