Greg Dupree

Treat yourself this winter season

Ellen Fort  – December 19, 2019 | Updated November 2, 2020

Temperatures are dropping throughout the West, which means it’s time to heat things up inside with a rich cup of hot chocolate. The classic recipe is always a great choice, combining ground chocolate or cocoa powder—we recommend always using the highest quality available. Try these tasty variations:

Totally Decadent Hot Chocolate

Caitlin Bensel

Hot chocolate becomes even more of an indulgent treat when a big dollop of caramel is stirred into it. Orange peel and vanilla bean bring the flavor.

Recipe: Decadent Hot Chocolate

Brandied Hot Chocolate

Greg DuPree

Adding French brandy to hot chocolate is like teleporting to the Alps, sans drooling Saint Bernard.

Recipe: Brandied Hot Chocolate

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Annabelle Breakey

Mexican chocolate is both spicy and sweet, the ideal combination for a cold winter’s night. Cinnamon, dried chilis, orange peel, and vanilla bean are the perfect complement to semi-bitter chocolate.

Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate

Boozy Frozen Hot Chocolate

Sunset Video

If you’re cozy inside by the fire, why not break out the rum for a frozen version of this holiday treat?

Recipe: Boozy Frozen Hot Chocolate

Champurrado (Thick Mexican Chocolate Drink)

Getty Images

A traditional Mexican beverage that combines hot chocolate with masa (corn flour) for a nourishing, warming beverage.

Recipe: Champurrado

And… Don’t Forget the Homemade Marshmallows

Annabelle Breakey

Punch up any hot chocolate—homemade or made from a mix—with your own marshmallows. They’re fluffy and pillowy, a far cry from the rigid, stale kind in the grocery store.

Add in a drop of food dye for fun hues, or experiment with flavors by mixing in peppermint oil, vanilla, matcha powder, or cocoa powder.

Recipe: Homemade Marshmallows

If you’re looking for a great gift, seek out mixes from Western chocolate makers: Dandelion Chocolate’s Single Origin Hot Chocolate Mix, Guittard’s Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate, or Recchiutti’s Dark Hot Chocolate.

Read the 2021 Gardening Issue

To read: Click on the right and left arrows at the edge of the box to turn pages; to make the text larger, click on the fullscreen icon in the lower-right corner (desktop) or in the center (mobile).

Get one year of Sunset—and all kinds of bonuses—for just $24.95. Subscribe now!