Spiked Hot Chocolate: A Drink Perfect For Christmas And Winter Festivities
A drink that has withstood the test of time–a 4000-year history that finds its origins in Central America–the beloved hot chocolate continues to be a sought-after drink during the cooler winter months. It not only warms you up but its velvety taste makes for a decadent sipping experience. This is a result of the several chemical compounds present in chocolate that trigger the brain to release endorphins. It’s a win-win situation!
However, hot chocolate did not start out as a sweet drink. In fact, it was thick and spicy and lightly sweetened with honey. Some of the other ingredients that went into it were chilli peppers and flowers. The drink’s flavour profile changed when the Europeans were introduced to it, starting from the 16th century. To make the drink more palatable to their taste buds, they introduced more sweetness and spice in the form of cinnamon. As time went on, the drink lost its spice variable and continued to get sweeter until it arrived at the modern-day version of hot chocolate, which lacked the cocoa content of its predecessor.
Fortunately, today, several bespoke cafes around the world offer the thick and spicy version of hot chocolate that was enjoyed by our ancestors, keeping the traditional elements of the drink alive. There are also spiked versions of the drink that are best enjoyed during the festive period for the warmth and indulgence that it provides. A variety of spirits–bourbon, peppermint schnapps, Irish cream–can be used to create a stunning spiked hot chocolate that is perfect for ushering in a celebratory mood. Let’s look at how you can create this delectable drink.
2 cups milk (whole or whatever milk you prefer)
½ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Your choice of alcohol
A pinch of salt
Chocolate shaving, whipped cream or marshmallows (for garnishing)
First, you will need to create the base of your drink. Combine the milk, heavy cream, cocoa powder, sugar and a pinch of salt in a saucepan on medium heat. Whisk the ingredients together until you arrive at a smooth texture. Now add the semi-sweet chocolate chips to the mixture and whisk until the chips have melted and the texture appears silky. For sweetness, add in the vanilla extract and stir. Then add the spirit of your choice–bourbon for a robust and rich flavour, peppermint schnapps for a festive twist or Irish cream for a creamy and luxuriant taste–and stir well. Your spiked hot chocolate is now ready to be served.
Pour the mixture into a mug and make sure to leave enough space at the rim for garnishing. To heighten the flavour profile of the already very indulgent drink, top it off with whipped cream, marshmallows and chocolate shavings. You can also experiment with sprinkled nutmeg or a hint of orange zest to subtly elevate the flavour profile. Your drink is ready to be devoured.
If you want to go all out on the presentation, consider slightly moistening the rim with sugar syrup and then dipping it in cocoa powder, crushed candy canes or even cinnamon.
Essentially a dessert in a mug, spiked hot chocolate combines the richness and creaminess of cocoa along with the stringency of your chosen spirit to create a drink that feels like an indulgence. The drink, which captures the essence of Christmas in every sip, can be enjoyed at festive gatherings or during solo moments as well. Don’t forget to experiment and have fun while making the drink. Go ahead, and treat yourself and the people around you to cups of deliciously spiked hot chocolate!