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Water Cooler: Add variety to your hot chocolate recipes

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 27, 2021

While classic hot chocolate recipes might hit the spot, there are plenty of variations to spice up your hot libation.  (Pixabay)
While classic hot chocolate recipes might hit the spot, there are plenty of variations to spice up your hot libation. (Pixabay)

With temperatures dropping this week, it’s time to bust out the hot chocolate again. If your kids are bored of the classic hot chocolate recipe, try out these fun variations.

Unicorn hot chocolate

This is the perfect hot chocolate for kids who love fairy tales, worlds of fantasy and bright pink. Melt 1 cup white chocolate chips in 2 cups half-and-half, 2 cups milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat. If you do not like the richness of the half-and-half, stick to all milk instead. Whisk continuously and do not let the mixture come to a boil. Once the white chocolate is melted and the mixture is warm, whisk in a few drops of pink food coloring (or a small amount of red food coloring). You can also swap out pink for purple by adding a bit of blue food coloring with the red. Garnish with rainbow sprinkles, marshmallows and whipped cream.

Grinch hot chocolate

Use the same proportions of white chocolate, half-and-half, milk and vanilla, but this time add a bit of peppermint syrup to taste (start with a teaspoon and work your way up until you like the strength of the peppermint flavor). You can find this syrup anywhere that sells coffee supplies, or you can make a peppermint syrup at home.

Mix 1 cup of water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then turn the heat low, heating until the sugar completely dissolves. This will take about five minutes, but you can boil it up to 10 minutes for a more concentrated syrup. After the sugar has dissolved, add in one bunch of rinsed mint leaves. Remove from the heat and let steep for five minutes. Strain and let cool.

Once you’ve added the peppermint syrup, add a few drops of green food coloring, or a mixture of blue and yellow food coloring. Top with whipped cream and red sprinkles for a Grinch flair, or if you want to give it a classic mint look, garnish with chopped or shaved dark chocolate.

Disney’s ‘Frozen’ hot chocolate

Follow the same recipe as the unicorn hot chocolate, but use blue food coloring instead. Garnish with marshmallows, whipped cream, and blue and white sprinkles. You can add extra frosted, “Frozen” flair by using edible glitter as well.

Caramel hot chocolate

Heat 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or cocoa powder, 2 cups half-and-half and 2 cups milk in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking continuously and adjusting the heat if needed so the mixture does not come to a boil. Drizzle in a tablespoon of caramel sauce, or adjust the amount to your liking. You can purchase caramel sauce at the store, it’s usually sold as an ice cream topping, or you can make your own if you’re ambitious. Garnish with whipped cream and drizzle caramel sauce on top. If your kids like salted caramel, add a pinch to the drink mixture and garnish with some flaked salt.

Chai spice hot chocolate

If your kids love chai mixtures, use the same recipe as the caramel hot chocolate, but instead of caramel, mix in one-half teaspoon ground cinnamon, one-half teaspoon ground ginger, one-fourth teaspoon allspice, one-fourth teaspoon nutmeg, a pinch of cardamom and ground cloves, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. If you like it sweet, add about one-half cup of granulated sugar, adjusting the amount to taste. Garnish with whipped cream, a cinnamon stick and a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg on top.

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