There's Actually A Difference Between Hot Cocoa And Drinking Chocolate

hands holding mug of hot chocolate with chocolate pieces
hands holding mug of hot chocolate with chocolate pieces - Nina Lishchuk/Shutterstock

How about a cozy, warm cup of hot cocoa? What about hot chocolate? These names have been used interchangeably to describe the same drink for ages: A deliciously sweet, chocolatey drink with milk and sugar. But you should be careful to distinguish between the two names. Even though they are both chocolate drinks, there are a few important differences between the two, including what they're made of and how they're made.

The key distinction between the two is in one of the self-explanatory names -- drinking chocolate. Drinking chocolate, aka hot chocolate, is simply pure chocolate melted down to become drinkable. Hot liquid, most likely water or milk, is added to help liquefy the melted chocolate. But you're still left with a very thick, velvety texture since you are drinking pure chocolate itself. Hot cocoa, meanwhile, is made of cocoa powder dissolved in water or milk, making for a more liquidy, thinner texture. It also often includes other ingredients like sugar to round out the flavors.

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Differences In Sugar Intake And Sweetness

cacao beans, cocoa powder, and chocolate on wooden table
cacao beans, cocoa powder, and chocolate on wooden table - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

With drinking chocolate, you're getting all of the sweetness inherent in the chocolate itself. The cocoa beans have already gone through an extensive process of drying, roasting, grinding, mixing with sugar and milk, and tempering to create a delectable piece of chocolate. When that chocolate is ground up and melted for drinking chocolate, often not much sugar is added so as not to alter the pure, natural flavor of the chocolate.

With hot cocoa, you're starting from scratch and getting the purest form of the cocoa bean ground up. At least, that's what hot cocoa started as -- nowadays, many hot cocoa mixes you can buy at the store already include added sugar or milk concentrate for convenience and the "instant hot cocoa" effect, along with a helping heaping of additional sugar. As a result, hot cocoa tends to be significantly sweeter than its hot chocolate counterpart. But if you search for pure hot cocoa, the amount of sugar you add is up to you. You could even mix your hot cocoa with chocolate milk for an even richer hot cocoa experience.

Hot Cocoa And Drinking Chocolate Varieties

spoonful of cocoa powder
spoonful of cocoa powder - Valeri Vatel/Shutterstock

Countries and cultures around the world have their own methods of making drinking chocolate, often incorporating spices and flavors unique to their cultures. Chocolate de mesa with cinnamon is used in Mexican drinking chocolate, while you can find a variety of spices and even cheese cubes in Colombian hot chocolate. Some artisan chocolate brands sell premium drinking chocolate, with something for every chocolate lover, whether you prefer your liquid chocolate smooth and creamy or chewy and heavy.

When it comes to hot cocoa, many of the pre-made hot cocoa packets you can buy at your local supermarket come in a myriad of flavors such as milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or marshmallow. For vegan and dairy-free chocolate lovers, many leading hot cocoa brands offer dairy-free hot cocoa as well! If you prefer to start from scratch, you can even make your own twist on hot cocoa at home, like with homemade vanilla cinnamon hot cocoa. Now that you know the distinctions between the two, you can enjoy warm drinking chocolate and hot cocoa in all their splendid chocolatey glory.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.