The Most Overlooked Yet Obvious Tip For Velvety Rich Hot Chocolate

Hot cocoa with marshmallows in starry mug
Hot cocoa with marshmallows in starry mug - New Africa/Shutterstock

The colder the weather, the warmer the drinks. Mulled apple cider recipes, warm tea, and of course, plenty of hot chocolate are key to the fall and winter months. If a packet of Swiss Miss dissolved into some simmering water isn't chocolatey enough for you, using milk adds a creamy richness to this seasonal beverage. But why not take it a step further? Instead of using regular milk, use chocolate milk to double down on the chocolate flavor.

Using chocolate milk as a base for hot chocolate is a simple yet genius way to pack as much cocoa flavor into your cup as possible. Simply heat the chocolate milk, then dissolve a hot chocolate packet directly into the warmed milk as you would with unflavored milk. This layers multiple types of chocolate together, developing a deep and luxurious flavor perfect for extreme chocolate lovers.

Chocolate milk is also often thicker than plain milk, giving the drink a velvet-smooth consistency.

Read more: 8 Chocolate Bars That Are Totally Different Outside The US

Should You Use Store-Bought Or Homemade Chocolate Milk?

Chocolate milk shown from above with straw
Chocolate milk shown from above with straw - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Before jumping into making amped-up hot chocolate, you'll need to decide what type of chocolate milk to use for the base. You can buy jugs of chocolate milk directly from the store, pre-flavored and rich with chocolatey goodness.

Some people prefer store-bought chocolate milk, especially because of its full-bodied texture: this is typically due to carrageenan, a somewhat controversial thickening agent and food additive made from a seaweed named Irish Moss. Carrageenan causes the beverage to gel slightly and ensures the chocolate and the milk in commercial chocolate milk won't separate in the jug. Due to this, using store-bought chocolate milk for hot chocolate will make the drink thicker; if a rich texture is important to you, it's the ideal option.

Chocolate milk made at home won't be quite as thick due to the lack of added ingredients, but it can easily be prepared with some sweetened chocolate powder or chocolate syrup (the same kind you'd use to drizzle on ice cream). If you make your chocolate milk at home, you'll have full control over what goes into it — and how chocolatey it is. If you want the power to make your hot chocolate as chocolatey as possible, or want to avoid the additives in store-bought milk, homemade chocolate milk is the best way to go.

Customize To Your Chocolatey Preferences

Pair of hands in sweater holding hot chocolate
Pair of hands in sweater holding hot chocolate - BongkarnGraphic/Shutterstock

If you truly desire the ultimate hot chocolate decadence, starting with a chocolate milk base is only a springboard for endless chocolatey possibilities. For example, melting in extra chocolate by way of crushed candy bar pieces or chocolate chips is one way to continue upping the richness factor. Simply whisk the candy directly into the cup until it's dissolved. Just don't go overboard — the milk will eventually get oversaturated, and the solids will sink to the bottom in a melted puddle.

Another way to boost chocolate notes is to add a tiny touch of a flavor enhancer, such as salt or vanilla extract. These ingredients serve to highlight and emphasize the other flavors surrounding them. Just the tiniest pinch of salt in the drink, or ½ teaspoon of vanilla, will make a noticeable difference.

On the other hand, if you're worried this double-chocolate drink will be overwhelmingly chocolatey, there are plenty of ways to introduce some balance. A cooling, fresh peppermint stick dissolved in the hot liquid isn't just aesthetically pleasing, but it can also take some of that chocolate edge off and provide contrast. Citrus is another excellent balancing ingredient, and the combination of orange and chocolate is a classic. Even if you decide not to add extras to your hot chocolate, you'll still enjoy an elevated cup with the richness of chocolate milk on your side.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.