Ah, Chocolate. Here we are at part three about hot chocolate. The first two parts focused on making the hot chocolate simply, easily, and so that it tasted delicious. Now we are going to move on to elevating it even more by adding toppings. Finding the right topping for your hot chocolate can make it just that much more of a special experience.
There is the usual go-to of whipping cream, which always makes it feel just a bit fancier. But you can also add marshmallows, meringues (even better if toasted with a Brulé torch), a combination of a whipped topping and then nuts and a chocolate syrup is also nice.
Let’s discuss the parts of a hot chocolate. Then how putting them together makes for delicious drinking.
First, the chocolate. The most important ingredient, and the flavour that shapes the whole experience. I suggest finding delicious traceable/ethically sourced chocolate, small batch bean to bar if you can as it, has a depth of flavour that really intensifies your hot chocolate experience. My personal preference is to chop up a bar of chocolate and use those bits as a base for the drink. Of course, you can also use a liquid or syrup style of chocolate, but these often have added sugars or chemicals in them, so do look at that if you choose to use these. If you really want to be fancy, you can make a chocolate ganache and begin with that.
Second, the liquid. With so many choices available the sky is the limit. You can use water to help intensify the taste of the chocolate and really highlight it. You can use cream to make it rich and delicious with that full milky feeling. Using a 2% milk is also nice to create a creamy yet not too rich drink. Nut milks are amazing and can often lend a touch of nutty flavour to the hot chocolate. Oat milks are one of my favourites as I find they add some texture to the drink without adding much flavour. If you are looking for something thicker, try a barista style nut or oat milk which will make a lovely froth and add a creamier feel to your drink. (Especially if you have a frother or milk warmer.)
Third, the soft topping. Use the whipped cream, the aquafaba, the chocolate mousse, the whipped cream with cacao powder folded into it as a topper. Really the sky is the limit to the possibilities of toppings. If you do, be sure to add something you love. Or add an ingredient that you like to pair with chocolate. Strawberry whipping cream, sure! Kalua, why not?
Fourth, the hard topping. Hot chocolate can be pretty… liquidy. I mean we want it to be a liquid, but sometimes you may want to add a bit of a texture to it besides creamy. Adding a hard topping can also help add a savory flavour to a sweet drink. Sprinkling nuts on top, adding some granola, chocolate shavings, or go crazy and add cookie crumbs or rainbow sprinkles. All these toppings can help set the mood of your special chocolate drink.
Syrup, liquid garnish, or rimming agent.
A few suggestions:
- White chocolate and strawberry (a puree from fresh berries, a dehydrated powder, or a syrup) with whipping cream and pink and red rainbow sprinkles, and if you want, a unicorn cookie on top. Perfect for fancy winter tea parties.
- Dark Chocolate topped with a chocolate whipping cream and sprinkled with nuts. Delicious!
- Milk chocolate in an oat milk topped with oat milk foam with chocolate cookie crumbs sprinkled over top.
- A steamed milk with a dollop of chocolate ganache on top so the drinker can stir it in and watch as it mixes with the milk is a fun way to add some drama to a party.
- Hot chocolate topped with whipping cream and a side dish of maple syrup so the person drinking it can sweeten it to their liking. Bitter and sweet.
However you choose to create your custom hot chocolate, have fun with it. Have fun dreaming it up. Have fun making it pretty. Have fun mixing it up. Have fun sharing it with friends and family. Hot chocolate is often about making memories, so have all the fun, and don’t worry too much about the mess.
Be sure to check out Part I and II for recipes for making hot chocolate. You can also sign up for my weekly newsletter here if you want to stay up to date on what is happening with Canadian Chocoholic. The weekly newsletter varies week to week but can include chocolate stories, chocolate resources, new products, recipes, or printable items for you to use and enjoy.