Cozy And Guilt-Free: 3 Twists On Skinny Hot Cocoa

All the taste. All the coziness. Fewer empty calories.

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When the weather gets chilly, there’s nothing quite like a steaming mug of hot cocoa to warm you up. Unfortunately, classic hot cocoa can be a hefty source of empty calories. So much sipping, so much sugar.

So we decided it was time to give classic cocoa a makeover. We took that delicious mug of chocolatey goodness and turned it into a sipper we’re proud of. We made it with whole food ingredients, no refined sugar, and lots of cocoa-y flavor. (Then we dreamed up three flavorful twists on the original recipe—stick around for those.)

If you’ve ever made hot cocoa at home, you know it can be a bit hit or miss. Some homemade cocoa recipes can be meh at best—not quite chocolatey enough, not quite creamy enough. So we worked through several versions to make sure we found one we could love. If you’re going to indulge in a cup of hot cocoa, it should be a delicious cup, and the version below is one of the best and simplest we’ve whipped up.

The basic recipe starts with cocoa powder, almond milk (feel free to use cashew milk, pecan milk, soy milk, or cow milk, if you’re into that), and coconut sugar.

Cocoa powder adds the chocolate flavor in this drink. Coming in at just 31 calories per tablespoon, it’s a great way to indulge chocolate cravings. Paleo eaters: Keep a look out for raw cacao powder, which is made by cold-pressing cocoa beans rather than roasting them. With that, you can enjoy the added benefits from the raw bean.

An unrefined sugar with great flavor, coconut sugar makes a great paleo and vegan swap-in for traditional sugar. Feel free to swap it for pure maple syrup or raw honey. Monkfruit or stevia work, too. Mind you, once you add the chocolate, you need just a touch of sweetness to make a yummy drink. We recommend starting with half the sugar, adding in teaspoonfuls until your desired sweetness is achieved.

With the ingredients in hand, this recipe is pretty straightforward! Just whisk the components together in a pan until they’re steaming, then serve and enjoy. If desired, add a bit of vanilla extract and top it with mini marshmallows and mini chocolate chips.

Note: This recipe is fairly flexible, so though the ingredient list below contains our favorite amounts, a bit of tweaking is always welcome.

Skinny Hot Cocoa

Amount served: 2 cups

  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut sugar (or stevia/monkfruit, to taste)
  • 1 ½ cups almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla (optional)
  • Mini marshmallows (optional)
  • Mini chocolate chips (optional)

In a small pot, heat all ingredients together until steaming. Pour into two large mugs. If desired, top with marshmallows and mini chocolate chips.

3 Barista-Inspired Twists

With a pan full of skinny hot cocoa on the stove, why not go full gourmet and whip up a batch of flavored cocoa?

Rather than blowing $5 at the coffee shop down the street, we’ve got three recipe twists that will have all the hottest flavors filling your kitchen. And since this recipe takes less than 5 minutes to make from start to finish, you’ll save money and time.

Tantalising Toffee

First up, we have toffee nut hot cocoa. Toffee tastes great when paired with cocoa. The concoction makes the perfect sipper for hazelnut and toffee lovers. It starts by melting a spoonful of chocolate-hazelnut spread (think Nutella) into a pan of skinny hot chocolate, then topping it off with whipped cream and crushed toffee.

If you’d prefer a totally dairy-free mug, whipped coconut cream or vegan whip work just as well as traditional whipped cream.

Most grocery stores sell crushed toffee bits in the baking section near the chocolate chips. But you can also make your own by purchasing a chocolate-toffee bar and crushing in a ziptop bag.

Toffee Nut Hot Cocoa

Amount served: 2 cups

  • 1 batch skinny hot cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp. chocolate-hazelnut spread (like Nutella)
  • ⅔ cup whipped cream or whipped coconut cream
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed toffee

In a small pot, heat skinny hot cocoa and chocolate-hazelnut spread together until steaming. Pour into 2 large mugs. Top with whipped cream and toffee. Enjoy!

Merry Mocha

If adding a bit of coffee to your cocoa is wrong, we don’t want to be right! Mix cold brew or espresso powder into our skinny hot cocoa (with a smidge of peppermint extract whisked in, as well) to make one of the best cups of DIY cocoa we’ve ever enjoyed. The flavors here are divine.

Since we skimped on calories for the main cup, we went with full-fat whipped cream, gluten-free marshmallows, and sprinkles of candy canes. The results were so good, we’re pretty sure we could hear Santa ordering a cup from way up in the North Pole. No joke.

Peppermint Mocha Hot Cocoa

Amount served: 2 cups

  • 1 batch skinny hot cocoa
  • ½ cup cold brew coffee (or 1 tsp. instant espresso powder)
  • ½ tsp. peppermint extract
  • ⅔ cup whipped cream
  • Mini marshmallows
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed candy canes

In a small pot, heat hot cocoa, cold brew coffee and peppermint extract together until steaming. Pour into 2 large mugs. Top with whipped cream, marshmallows, and crushed candy canes. Enjoy!

Cookie Cocoa

We love the look of this mug of cookie-infused cocoa. As almonds lovers, we’re also crazy for the flavor of this simple, nutty twist.

Rim a mug with a bit of honey, crushed sugar cookies, or graham crackers (gluten-free, if you please) to make it look as good as it tastes. Stir a bit of almond extract into your pan of cocoa, pour it into your jumbo mugs, then top them off with whipped cream and sprinkles for a truly fun treat.

Sugar Cookie Hot Cocoa

Amount served: 2 cups

  • 1 batch skinny hot cocoa
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • ⅔ cup whipped cream
  • 1 Tbsp. rainbow sprinkles

In a small pot, heat hot cocoa and almond extract together until steaming. Pour into 2 large mugs. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles. Enjoy!

Try These Twists, Too

If you’re throwing a winter party, why not have a hot cocoa bar, complete with a menu, where guests can make their own fancy custom-flavored cocoas? In addition to providing tastiness, a hot cocoa bar helps you get the party warmed up right away.

In addition to the recipes above, here are a few other menu additions. At your hot cocoa bar, simply set out all ingredients and add-ins, write recommended flavor pairings on a chalkboard (or print on some paper), and let your party guests go wild.

  • Caramel Sipper: Skinny hot cocoa + caramel sauce. Top with whipped Cream + mini caramel cups.
  • Cookies and Cocoa: Skinny hot cocoa + hot fudge sauce. Rim glasses with chocolate creme cookies + top with Whipped Cream
  • White Chocolate Gingerbread: Skinny hot Cocoa + white chocolate syrup + a pinch of pumpkin pie spice. Top with whipped cream + crushed gingerbread cookies.
  • S’mores: Skinny hot cocoa + vanilla extract. Rim mugs with honey and crushed graham crackers. Top with marshmallows and chocolate chunks.
  • Banana Split Cocoa: Skinny hot cocoa + banana liqueur or extract. Rim mugs with hot fudge sauce and sprinkles. Top with whipped topping and a maraschino cherry.

Happy holidays! Wishing you lots of happy hours of sipping by the fire.

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