Simple Hot Cocoa Recipe (+ Hot Chocolate Bar Ideas)
How to make hot chocolate at home with a simple, ultimate 'base' hot cocoa recipe - perfect for customizing to your needs (sugar-free, vegan, keto, decadent, etc.). Plus, 50+ hot chocolate bar ideas (including eco-friendly/low-waste options) and/or optional add-ins/flavor variations!
Heat up the milk in a saucepan over medium heat and then add the cacao powder and sweetener of your choice*.
Whisk the mixture well until there are no lumps left in the hot cocoa. You can also add a pinch of salt directly to this base mix.
For a hot chocolate bar/party: If you're preparing large amounts, you can also do so in crockpots/ slow cookers (I suggest making at least two, one with dairy and one without) and then leave on the warming function for the event.
Any leftover hot chocolate can be cooled to room temperature and then chilled for up to 3 days.
* You can omit the sweetener for now if you know that guests will want to use different ones.
You can make the hot chocolate the day ahead and reheat it for the event.
For a truly individual experience, you can simply prepare the heated milk (dairy and dairy-free) and allow your guests to do every other part themselves (including adding the cocoa powder and sweetener of their choice).
It's best to label each of the ingredients at your hot chocolate bar with titles and dietary info (Ve, GF, Nut-free, etc.). For ease of access, you can also group the items together - vegan toppings in one area, ketogenic, etc.
To keep the milk/hot chocolate warm: You can use slow cookers/crockpots, good thermos flasks, or large insulated coffee dispensers.
If you use a thermos to serve the hot chocolate, fill it will boiling water beforehand for a few minutes - this will help to keep the hot cocoa recipe warmer for longer as it ‘preheats’ the thermos.
I have used the terms hot chocolate and hot cocoa interchangeably in this post. I know some people refer to hot chocolate as the drink with a melted chocolate base - however, in the UK and several other countries ‘hot chocolate’ is used to describe both versions (with chocolate or cocoa powder).
Check the full list of items needed for a hot cocoa bar, plus the optional add-ins and toppings in the blog post!